Starring: Amanda Seyfried, James Norton, Natalia Dyer, F. Murray Abraham, Karen Allen, Rhea Seehorn, Alex Neustaedter
OUR RATING: ★★☆☆☆
Netflix horror thriller written and directed by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini. Set in the 1980s, Things Heard & Seen (2021) follows married couple Catherine and George Clare (Amanda Seyfried and James Norton), who move from the city into an old farmhouse in the Hudson Valley. As Catherine does her best to transform the old dairy farm into a home, she finds herself increasingly isolated and alone. She soon comes to sense a sinister darkness lurking both in the walls of the property, and in her marriage.
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Lynne: You’re a big city girl now with your dream job. You thought this through?
Catherine Claire: George really wants this. He hates the struggle here. It’s gotten worse since his father cut him off. And I had no idea he was even taking money from them. Apparently, it’s been happening since Franny was born.
Catherine Claire: George has made some big sacrifices for me, and I owe it to him to at least try.
George Claire: I think I’ve found the perfect house for us.
Mare Laughton: As I told George last week, it’s from the late 1800s. There’s definitely updating that needs to be done here.
Catherine Claire: Yes, it certainly could use a paint job.
George Claire: Yeah, but look at these bones, huh? Amazing!
George Claire: [referring to the house] We’ll make it happy.
Catherine Claire: You smell that? It smells like car exhaust fumes. Right?
George Claire: Yeah. I guess I smell it.
Catherine Claire: And it’s getting stronger.
George Claire: Do you think ghosts use premium unleaded?
George Claire: I guess I’m a bit of a cliché, the New York cynic. That how a painter as brilliant as Inness could fall for some 18th century mystic still baffles me.
Floyd DeBeers: Well, Swedenborg, he wasn’t just some mystic. He keenly understood that everything in the natural world has a counterpart in the spiritual realm. And Inness painted landscapes with this in mind.
George Claire: My trouble with Swedenborg is his communicating with angels and ghosts. Glorifying death as this grand passage.
Floyd DeBeers: You should know that Swedenborg still has a devoted following in this neck of the woods, myself included. We even have séances on occasion. I’ll invite you.
George Claire: I will bring my wife. She is the true believer of the family.
Floyd DeBeers: Well, you are now officially in Inness territory. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing things his way.
George Claire: You know he killed someone? Over a game of tennis.
George Claire: Caravaggio.
Willis: Oh, well, I’m not surprised. People get away with all kinds of horrible things.
George Claire: Are you speaking from personal experience?
Eddie Vayle: You should come on in. The water’s great.
Catherine Claire: Believe me, it looks very tempting.
Eddie Vayle: You know what they say about temptation. Easiest way to kill it’s just to give in.
Eddie Vayle: [referring to George] What’s he like?
Willis: Dishonest. Deceitful.
Eddie Vayle: And how would you know that?
Willis: Because I found him attractive.
Catherine Claire: [reading from the book] “All of us on Earth are associated with those in the spiritual world who are like ourselves. We are, in a sense, united to them.”
Willis: What are you looking for here?
George Claire: I don’t really know.
Willis: You’re a presumptuous f***er, aren’t you?
Catherine Claire: He’s got a social life at that school, and I’m isolated.
Catherine’s Mom: Something’s wrong. I can hear it in your voice.
Catherine Claire: I’m starting to see things. And I’m scared to tell George about it.
George Claire: [to Eddie] Do me a favor. My wife doesn’t know that you lived here, or what happened. I think it would be better if we kept it that way. She’s a nervous woman, and, well, she wouldn’t want you around if she found out.
George Claire: It seems a little odd, no? That you’d want to be here at all.
Eddie Vayle: Well, taking care of this house comes second nature to us.
Willis: You think because I f*** you, I’m fooled by you? I’ve been around guys like you my whole life.
George Claire: What the hell are you talking about?
Willis: My dad made a fortune defending all of them. Thieves, con men, psychopaths. And they all got off, because that’s the way the world works for men.
George Claire: Okay. Look, I see that you have some pretty awful ideas about men.
Willis: I have awful ideas about everything.
George Claire: [referring to their house] My wife thinks ours is haunted.
Justine: Well, she’s probably right. They’re all haunted a little bit.
Bram: After all, we’re in Headless Horseman country.
Bram: You know, I came up here to write the Great American Novel. But I spend most of my time tending to my garden, if you get my drift.
Justine: [about having kids] Bram and I were conflicted about that for a while, and then Mother Nature made the final decision. And she made the right one. It all worked out perfectly.
Catherine Claire: I was conflicted too, but just like that, it happened. And then we got married, which I was also conflicted about. I guess you could say I’m a conflicted Catholic girl at heart, dutifully going through the motions.
George Claire: It must be so nice to inherit a fortune, and then spend all day not writing a book.
Catherine Claire: God, we are two smart people. We should’ve known better.
George Claire: Known what?
Catherine Claire: That I’m only here for the imaginary book jacket bio that you have in your f***ing head! The professor, with the wife, and the country home. I gave up everything for you!
George Claire: Oh, God. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry I f***ed up both of our lives!
Catherine Claire: And the worst part is, this is all I have.
Catherine Claire: I am so sick of everybody blaming everything in my f***ing life on me not eating!
George Claire: [to Catherine] I didn’t mean to hurt you. I would never hurt you. But I also I have not been sensitive to your needs for some time. And for that, I owe you an apology. More than an apology. One thing I do know is that I love you.
George Claire: We’re all so inconsequential, Floyd.
Floyd DeBeers: Swedenborg would suggest otherwise. He’d say death is only the beginning.
Floyd DeBeers: [referring to the cover art] It’s a soul transitioning into the afterlife.
Catherine Claire: Really?
Floyd DeBeers: The painter followed Swedenborg, so he believed that death is parallel to birth, but divine.
George Claire: Floyd, believe me, you do not want to get my wife started on all that stuff.
Floyd DeBeers: We’re not alone, are we?
Catherine Claire: What do you mean?
Floyd DeBeers: She doesn’t mean any harm. She has reasons for lingering.
Catherine Claire: I’ve seen her, and so has my daughter.
Floyd DeBeers: Because she’s here for you. She wants you to know that.
Catherine Claire: At first, I was terrified, of course. But now, every time I sense her, I feel comfort. I know that doesn’t make any sense.
Floyd DeBeers: It makes perfect sense.
Catherine Claire: You can’t tell George because he can’t know. He thinks that I’m crazy.
Floyd DeBeers: No, of course not. He’s just afraid, you know. Men at his stage of life often are. But try and be patient, Catherine. With love, he can catch up to you spiritually.
George Claire: [referring to Floyd] Did he say anything?
Catherine Claire: About what?
George Claire: About me?
Catherine Claire: Oh. He said that you were an exceptional professor.
George Claire: And you are an exceptional wife, which means the world to me.
Mare Laughton: I told George the whole story when I first showed him the house, and…
Catherine Claire: What story?
Mare Laughton: I suppose he didn’t want to upset you.
Catherine Claire: I’ve been in this house for three months, and nobody has said anything to me. Not the mailman, not a neighbor, not the bank teller. God, I’m such a fool!
Mare Laughton: You’ve made this home so warm, and inviting, and everyone’s moved on so well. I’m sure that George didn’t mean…
Catherine Claire: No, do not waste any of your time on George, Mare. George Claire always gets exactly what he wants.
George Claire: [to Justine] I know you’re a weaver of fabrics. And ideas. Like the ideas you’ve been putting in my wife’s head lately.
Justine: Here’s something about me you don’t know. I get suspicious when students worship their professors. Always leads to trouble.
George Claire: Is that a dig or advice?
Justine: Oh, it’s just honesty. You know, like the Good Book says. “The truth will set you free.”
George Claire: I don’t know about that.
George Claire: People really don’t want the truth, and they certainly don’t want to be set free.
Justine: What? Says who?
George Claire: The Eagles, remember? Hotel California. Yeah. We all choose our own prison.
George Claire: Know what’s interesting to me? Is that this party was supposed to bring you and me together, and as soon as everyone leaves, you retreat and ice up.
Catherine Claire: How could you not tell me about this house, George?!
George Claire: I wasn’t lying to you, Cath. I was trying to spare you some unpleasantness.
Catherine Claire: I can handle unpleasantness, George, okay? I lived through childbirth, remember?
George Claire: I was trying to protect you. Believe it or not, I actually wanted you to be happy here.
Catherine Claire: So much death in my house.
Millicent: Oh, no, no. Don’t think of it that way. We embrace inhabited houses as a blessing. Portals between two realms with guides to shepherd us once our own time comes.
Floyd DeBeers: Some religions call them guardian angels.
Millicent: Because it’s the afterlife where we reach our greatest purpose.
Catherine Claire: You never see these spirits as potentially evil?
Millicent: An evil spirit will only commune with an evil-doer.
Floyd DeBeers: Which we will take, on a leap of faith, that you’re not.
Local Man: And remember. Evil only thrives in the house where it is welcome.
Local Woman: Goodness always triumphs. Always. If not in this world, then in the next.
Floyd DeBeers: I’m afraid this home has another spirit. And until that spirit reveals its nature, be careful of those around you, Catherine.
George Claire: So you’re starting with all this again?
Catherine Claire: I happen to be sick, George. Throwing up my marriage. Now leave me the f*** alone!
Eddie Vayle: What’s the matter? Are you okay?
Catherine Claire: Things just aren’t great.
Eddie Vayle: It’s him, isn’t it? I know his kind all too well. I grew up with it. If I had someone as good as you, I’d kiss the f***ing ground she walked on. I swear to God.
Justine: [after she sees Willis wearing the scarf] Tell me, George, how did your mom like that scarf I made her?
George Claire: Yeah, she didn’t really care for it, actually. She said that it felt cheap.
Justine: Well, that explains the neck it ended up on, then, huh?
George Claire: Where do you think you’re going, huh? With my goddamn daughter!
Catherine Claire: Home!
George Claire: This is your f***ing home!
Catherine Claire: Nowhere is home with you, George!
Catherine Claire: I know about Floyd! Your clothes were soaked that night! And Justine? You hated her. I know you were involved. I know it in my bones. And what about that cousin? That cousin whose identity you stole?
George Claire: Oh, you’ve really lost your mind, you know that? You’ve gone way, way over the edge!
Catherine Claire: No, I’ve woken up.
George Claire: [to Catherine] Go. Get up. Leave your daughter with this monster you’ve conjured up in your paranoid, food-deprived brain!
Ella Vayle: [in ghost form] Fate. Catherine. On the path of fate, I can gather sharp stones so you don’t feel their pain. But another’s free will is his alone.
Ella Vayle: [in ghost form] Our essence united. I would give my life again for the power to stop this. Just know, Catherine. As she was there for me, I am here, for you.
Ella Vayle: Those who commune with evil never win.
[George strikes an unconscious Catherine with an ax]
Travis Laughton: [referring to George] Did you ever see him hit her? Threaten her?
Eddie Vayle: No, no, I never. She just told me that she hated him.
Travis Laughton: Lots of wives hate their husbands. Lots of husbands hate their wives. That doesn’t mean that they’d put an ax in their gut.
Eddie Vayle: I just know he f***ing did it, okay, Travis! I’m telling you he did it! You have to believe me, okay?
Travis Laughton: I never said I don’t, son. But you’re giving me nothing here.
Mare Laughton: Travis, it’s so obvious George Claire did this. You have to arrest him.
Travis Laughton: I know. But I need another person to connect the dots. That may take time.
Calvin: [George hears his ghostly voice] They made this happen. It’s their fault. They have always tried to hold you back. You are envied. Unrecognized. Trust in your impulses. Go.
Ella, Catherine: [as George sails to his death] The world of spirits is not Heaven or Hell. We stand between the two. We have lost our children. Because of you, we are joined in spirit. Because of you, our powers grow, from tiny drops, into an endless sea.