1980. George and Catherine, parents of little Franny, they move from Manhattan to a small country town, where the man managed to get a professorship at the local college.
Catherine, despite not being at all enthusiastic about leaving city life, decides to please her husband but immediately understands how her new home is not entirely quiet. In fact, strange presences seem to hover among those dwellings, but George is deaf to his complaints and indeed begins to exhibit adulterous behavior, so much so that the relationship slowly begins to deteriorate.
As time goes by Catherine uncovers more and more disturbing secrets about how much happened in the past between those four walls, but anyone who can help her prove the truth is now in danger. Indeed, the cycle seems destined to repeat itself once again.
Appearances are deceiving
Adaptation of the novel All Things Cease to Appear at Elizabeth Brundage, The Appearance of Things is one of the new original titles arrived in the Netflix catalog. Not that these and their subscribers necessarily felt the need, since we are faced with an approximate film, unable to find its own narrative fluidity and more and more confusing as the two hours of viewing proceed.
In reality, the main line is somewhat obvious, with the classic ghost-house to act as a background a a seen and reviewed marital-family breakdown in genre cinema. What is lacking is consistency, with the plot that unravels forced twists without too much conviction and superficially exploits the secondary figures, which are simple pawns of a scheme that after the first half hour has already exhausted the best ones, not to say unique, cartridges.
The same mystery / horror context is rose water and fear is totally absent, as well as the expected gloomy atmospheres that should have caused a potential disquiet: see the scene of the séance, one of the most approximate that can be remembered.
A story that proceeds by inertia
The inconsistencies are wasted, from non-existent alibis and approximate investigations to sudden revelations that seem to come providentially at the right time to guide the story on the established tracks. We cannot know if this is a flaw that can also be found in the paper work, but at least in this form it is so evident as to be irritating.
The approach used by Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini, both directors and authors of the screenplay, is aimed at highlighting the evils of a wrong marriage, with a slight feminist instinct: the man is a predator and a traitor and the woman destined once again to be hypothetical victim of an ambiguous path.
The choice, however, never finds the right nuances, and the emotions disappear also due to a cast that turns out to be more anonymous than usual.
Amanda Seyfried here looks like the shadow of her present self and his impatient gaze characterizes almost all of his close-ups, while James Norton is a totally anti-charismatic and characterless figure, mostly involuntary protagonist of a Dante’s epilogue that would like to be visionary but ends up being an ineffective conclusion.
Just the umpteenth symptom of a rambling operation that exploits, without any restraint, the thoughts of the philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg, considered among the forerunners of spiritism. Here, perhaps he would be right to come out of the grave to take revenge for this embezzlement.