The appearance of things’ has come to Netflix to give us a little bad vibes, the odd scare and, above all, a great plan for Saturday night.
Amanda Seyfried and James Norton star as a married couple who begin to experience strange phenomena in their new home.
The best psychological horror movies on Netflix.
You don’t have to be smart (just have seen enough horror movies) to know that moving into an old, isolated house always brings trouble. Especially if you start to hear strange sounds at night, the lights start flashing, the radios turn on by themselves, and an unfamiliar face appears in the bathroom mirror. Those little things. In ‘The Appearance of Things’, the new movie that Netflix has released this week, nothing is what it seems (hence the title), not the spirits that seem to inhabit a haunted house or an apparently perfect marriage.
Amanda Seyfried and James Norton star in this suspense thriller featuring haunted houses and unspeakable secrets.
Based on the novel ‘All Things Cease to Appear’ by Elizabeth Brundage and directed by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman (‘American Splendor’), the story is set in the 1980s and follows the life of Catherine Claire (Amanda Seyfried), a New York artist who moves with some qualms to a lost town in the Hudson Valley because her husband George (James Norton) has found a job teaching Art History at a local university. There they arrive with her little daughter Franny (Ana Sophia Heger) and settle in a house that hides as many (or more) secrets than its new tenants.
But the focus is on Catherine from the beginning, on how she sneakily leaves her piece of cake during a party and starts vomiting in the bathroom. She how she lies about what she has eaten and then she serves herself a salad saying that she is too full. The protagonist suffers from an eating disorder, which is accompanied by a general crisis in which the feeling of having left her life in Manhattan to chase someone else’s dreams consumes her. Her relationship with her husband is hanging by a thread, her trust cracked and her knowing smiles absent. And little by little a narrative line emerges that has become quite common in suspense and horror films: the woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown who connects with supernatural forces and whom her partner wants to paint as crazy when, in reality , is the most lucid of all. Without going any further there is ‘mother!’ by Darren Aronofsky, or the lesser known (and very interesting) ‘The Wind’ by Emma Tammi.
This idea of the wife who sees the light while her husband takes off his mask to reveal her true nature gives rise to many feminist readings that Pulcini and Berman know how to take advantage of. The marital magic is broken when Catherine is practically forced to adopt the role of a submissive housewife instead of developing her professional activity, although the problems that will be removed from under the rug as the film progresses will be much more serious than the problem. of gender roles under the heteropatriarchy of the 1980s.
At the end of what he talks about is how the past (of the people, of the houses, of the United States itself) always ends up destabilizing the present, especially when there are unresolved issues and crimes that have not found justice. And also of how art is reflection and lies, it is a testament to realities and truths made up, such as the idealized landscapes painted by Thomas Cole and George Innes, which take on a prominent role in the film.
Closer to suspense thriller than ‘jumpscare’ horror, ‘The appearance of things’ benefits from the presence of Amanda Seyfried, who plays her character with conviction and manages to find the nuances between fragility and empowerment . The actress comes from being nominated for the first time for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for ‘Mank’ by David Fincher (and also Netflix), where she played actress Marion Davies in the golden age of classic Hollywood. Nor is his co-star, James Norton, who we saw as a secondary in Greta Gerwig’s ‘Little Women’, as an action hero in the series ‘McMafia’ and more recently still as part of the cast of HBO’s ‘The Nevers’. . In this new film, Norton knows perfectly how to embody the lick toxic man that we should not trust for anything in the world.
No, the new Netflix horror show fails to exploit all the good ideas that its characters, their time and their setting seem to point to, from the class relations in the town where the action takes place to the true meanings that are extracted from the pronounced presence of the Cole and Innes painting in the story. But that does not mean that what it presents, although conventional, is a bad option to have a little bad vibes this weekend alone or in company. Well, better in company.