I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House has arrived on Netflix. It stars Ruth Wilson (Luther) as Lily, a live-in carer who looks after the ailing Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss), a famous horror author. Lily is too anxious to read her work – until she begins to think that she may not be alone in the house…
Many will put off by the film’s glacial pacing and chilly mood. If you thought that Ti West’s The Innkeepers was overly mannered and needed to get a move on then this is almost certainly not you.
However, patient viewers are for the most part rewarded with an atmospheric chiller. Perkins and cinematographer Julie Kirkwood create a powerful sense of cold and unease from the first frames, as Lily anxiously inches around the house, terrified of the growing patch of mould downstairs and the secrets hidden in the pages of Blum’s novel.
Wilson’s brilliant leading turn is crucial, and this is something very different for her; a softly spoken and jittery woman who is seemingly always on the verge of a nervous break. Her whispering voice-over becomes part of the film’s soundtrack, ushering us through the film and adding another layer of vintage horror shivers.
However, the flashbacks feel like an unnecessary addition to bulk the film out. Meanwhile, Lily is so thinly fleshed out that it seems to be a conscious choice, but it does distance the viewer, possibly pushing those struggling to connect with the lack of momentum and warmth.
It’s a difficult film to love then, but it is beautifully made and boasts a superb central performance. There are wonderful chills to be found in the chilliness.