Lily is a young nurse who goes to stay in a secluded home to take care of an elderly woman. The woman once was a well-known horror author, while Lily is terrified of anything related to horror. As time goes on, Lily begins to sense a presence in the house and begins to investigate the house’s haunted history.
This movie couldn’t be more of a slow burn if it tried. Nothing major happens in the film whatsoever until of the course the final few minutes, and even then it’s nothing terrifying. But despite all of this, I thought this was a really good film. It feels like a gothic horror novel right down to the narrative (which is where much of the dialogue is), but it has the look and style of a ’70s ghost film. And that’s what this film basically is, a full blown ghost story that one would tell by a campfire or at sleepover. While again the film isn’t particularly scary, it has a very eerie atmosphere and is so brilliantly filmed. Most ghost films these days follow the formula of loud or in your face jump scares, or ghosts/demons growling at you. This is one is a very traditional ghost story in every sense. The house itself is a character all its own and helps bring a lot of the story to life. While I do wish some of the backstory of the house was elaborated on much more than it was, it wasn’t a massive flaw for me. Our lead character Lily isn’t exactly special or someone to root for, in fact she’s very much average in the sense that she could be anyone. The elderly woman Iris that Lily is caring for has a bit more character because of the mystery surrounding her and the house. The writer and director of this film (Oz Perkins), also wrote and directed the yet-to-be-released film The Blackcoat’s Daughter, which also follows the slow burn path, but like this film, there is a lot in the story to engage the viewer if you are one who has the patience to wait and see what happens, even when both of his films aren’t the kind of horror films you accustomed to by today’s standards. The very small cast does a fine job with their performances; Ruth Wilson captures the shy, quiet, and reserved Lily very well, and in her moments of fear, she’s not screaming constantly or crying, it’s like she’s having a genuine panic attack and frozen in fear, and it comes off very flawlessly. And then there is Paula Prentiss as Iris; she has a way of making this elderly woman creepy, while not really being creepy. The hollow and emotionless way she carries the character makes you become so engrossed with what she has to say, and as said above, she was definitely the most interesting character.
So if you can tolerate REALLY slow burn films with no jump scares, and enjoy very traditional ghost stories, then give this one a shot on Netflix.