Watched this on Netflix last night with a friend. I had seen Blackcoat's Daughter earlier this year and was wanting to see what else Osgood Perkins was capable of.
I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives In the House is narrated mostly by Lily, a hospice nurse who has come to live with an elderly woman who made all her money writing horror novels. Lily is an avowed scardy cat who can't bring herself to read any of her employer's books past more than a few pages. The old woman keeps calling her Polly, which disturbs her. Bob Balaban, playing the executor of the elderly woman's estate, informs Lily that Polly was the main character of their employer's most successful book, The Lady in the Walls. Before that, on her very first night in the house, weird things start happening. The rest of the movie is a slow burn as we learn who and what Polly is.
The first 45 minutes or so of this movie are pretty good for haunted house horror. There are lingering shots on everyday objects that are somehow filled with dread. Perkins uses negative spaces to let the audience project their fears into the darkness and allow us to scare ourselves. Unfortunately, whenever he breaks down and shows us the ghost, things tend to fall apart. The whole movie seems more interested in making some kind of statement about womanhood and how men keep women locked away in boxes, competing with one another. The scares aren't that scary and, once every thing is explained, the movie goes on for another ten minutes that is not needed. My friend said the whole thing felt like a poem and that is pretty much right. Abstract at times but too literal at others, it wants to be more than the sum of its parts but it doesn't quite come together.
I can only recommend this as one of the artsier horror movies I have seen in awhile.