“Please stop with the ghost stuff,” a character asks in Netflix misfire Things Heard & Seen, a request the film is conflicted about. For much of its long two hours, you can take it as a ho-hum tale of marital strife in upstate New York, a variant on the campus novel, heavy on the corduroy and adultery. The year is 1980 and things are looking up for preening Manhattan art historian George Claire (a capable James Norton).
When he is hired for a teaching post at a private college, his ego swells to bursting as he moves his young daughter and bright, troubled wife Catherine (Amanda Seyfried, also better than this) to an aged country farmhouse. The set designer has a ball — the avocado-green kitchen is star of several scenes — but Catherine less so, marooned and lonely while her husband builds a fan club among his students.
Life out here is so quiet no one even goes to see The Shining, despite Stanley Kubrick’s masterwork having recently been released. The movie makes up for it by lifting the broad strokes of a flawed husband and father egged on by evil patriarchal spirits inside the very walls and floorboards. “We’ll make it happy,” George says of the ramshackle house, the script winking so hard it might pull a muscle. Would that so much energy were put into the scares, a string of eerie gestures that aim for subtle and come out listless. Later, overcompensating, the movie (directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini) goes full-tilt bananas, lurching at speed into murder and metaphysics.
On Netflix now