I’ll say this a lot for “Issues Heard & Seen”: it completely lives as much as its identify. If, out of curiosity or inertia, you let your Netflix algorithm have its means for 2 hours, you’ll undoubtedly hear and see some issues, although you could have bother afterward remembering simply what these issues have been.
The film, directed by Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman, relies on a novel by Elizabeth Brundage known as “All Issues Stop to Seem,” which is a extra intriguing title, although maybe not as cinematic. In any case, the particular person doing a lot of the seeing and listening to is Catherine Claire (Amanda Seyfried), who has left New York Metropolis and moved into an outdated farmhouse within the Hudson Valley together with her husband, George (James Norton), and their younger daughter, Franny (Ana Sophia Heger).
What occurs up there may be taken as a cautionary story for many who fled town throughout the pandemic, or as an invite to schadenfreude for many who didn’t. Not that “Issues Heard & Seen” insists on relevance. It takes place in 1980, and as in lots of fashionable thrillers, the interval setting appears primarily to be a matter of expertise. Again then, there have been no Google picture searches, no climate apps and no Zillow listings. It was an excellent time to be a ghost.
And, apparently, a nasty time to be married to a professor of artwork historical past at a small liberal-arts faculty. George is a smug nugget of preppy pretension who has not too long ago accomplished a dissertation on the painters of the Hudson River Faculty. That lands him a gig at Saginaw Faculty, and Catherine leaves behind her profession as an artwork restorer to comply with him there.
The division chair (F. Murray Abraham) is a devotee of the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg, an 18th-century Swedish mystic a lot admired by Nineteenth-century American intellectuals. Amongst his followers was the panorama painter George Inness, a topic of George Claire’s analysis.
These references add an overlay of cultural seriousness to an unsuspenseful and secondhand psychological haunted-house thriller. Shortly after their arrival, Catherine begins, properly, listening to and seeing issues. An outdated Bible seems on a shelf. The piano begins enjoying itself. Franny’s evening gentle behaves unusually, and a spectral girl lurks within the shadows of her room. There’s additionally the scent of automobile exhaust in the midst of the evening.
The home, it seems, had beforehand been the scene of marital unhappiness and potential homicide, each within the 1800s and extra not too long ago. As George reveals himself to be a cheater, a gaslighter and an all-around sociopath, it appears to be like as if the Claires may be headed in that route, too.
Which ought to be extra fascinating than it’s. As ought to the college-town setting, which is a hive of badly stored secrets and techniques and barely managed lust, with a inhabitants that features some very high quality character actors (Rhea Seehorn, James Urbaniak and Karen Allen along with Abraham). There are additionally two engaging targets for the Claires’ roving eyes: Alex Neustaedter, as a hunky handyman, and Natalia Dyer, as a Cornell scholar taking a depart of absence to coach horses.
However “Issues Heard & Seen” is lower than the sum of its probably intriguing components. Moderately than interweaving home drama, supernatural mumbo-jumbo and campus naughtiness, Pulcini and Berman lurch from one scene to the following, squandering scares and undermining the momentum of the story. There ought to be extra to see right here.
Issues Heard & Seen
Not rated. Working time: 1 hour 59 minutes. Watch on Netflix.