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Film / I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House

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I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is a 2016 horror film, directed and written by Oz Perkins. Lily Saylor (Ruth Wilson), a hospice nurse, moves in with a retired horror story author named Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss). Given the eerie and mysterious nature of both the house and Iris, Lily suspects something sinister has occurred.

This film contains examples of:

  • 13 Is Unlucky: Close to the beginning, Lily mentions Iris Blum wrote thirteen horror novels in total, and no-one in the movie has anything approaching good luck.
  • All First-Person Narrators Write Like Novelists: Although she speaks simply and with some hesitation, Lily's voice-over narration is composed of overwrought metaphor and awkward philosophical wording. The reason for this dissonance in speech is soon revealed as Lily narrating posthumously.
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  • Downer Ending: Lily is frightened to death by Polly's spirit. Soon after, Iris dies of old age. Lily and Iris both end up haunting the house, Lily's anguish not letting her pass on and Iris trapped by her obsession with hearing the end of Polly's story.
  • Drop the Hammer: Done to Polly by her new husband in flashback.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Lily is going to die at some point in the story. Given the eleven month Time Skip, it's bound to happen sooner rather than later.
  • Foreshadowing: Lily explains to Mr. Waxcap that she's easily frightened, and it takes her a few tries to get through one of Ms. Blum's books. She ends up literally getting scared to death by Polly.
  • Ghostly Glide: Polly does an especially creepy version.
  • Ghostly Goals: Played with. It seems like Polly wants or needs the living to know what happened to her, which is why she contacted Iris in the first place. But Lily explains that nothing traps ghosts but their own obsession with the circumstances of their deaths, and that this obsession causes them to stagnate and "rot".
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  • Haunted Heroine: Naturally.
  • Haunted House: The setting for the entire movie takes place inside Iris Blum’s haunted home. Lily also describes a ghost-filled house as only being “borrowed” by the living occupants from the dead who reside there.
  • The Hero Dies: Lily is scared to death by the haunting, and her spirit ends up haunting the house.
  • Jerkass: Iris's lawyer, Mr. Waxcap. He disregard's Lily's concerns about the moldering wall and possible damaged plumbing, basically saying that as Iris is likely to be dead soon there's no sense in spending money from the estate to fix it. He also dismisses the idea that the mold might be a health concern for the same reason.
  • Kill the Cutie: Lily is very sweet, a little shy, and very understandably nervous about living in the house. And it's made it explicit from the start she's got less than a year to live.
  • Left Hanging: In-universe, the newly married couple vanishes on their wedding day without even furnishing the house, leading to speculation as to why they disappeared. It turns out that the female half of the couple was Polly, who was murdered and stuffed into a wall, but her husband's reason for killing her and what became of him are left unexplained.
  • Long Title: I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House.
  • Mirror Scare: Polly’s ghost appears suddenly in the reflection of the television.
  • No Ending: In-Universe. Iris's novel The Lady in the Walls ends this way, as its title character does not remember her own death.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Multiple scenes often show only a dark hallway as the source of fear.
  • Posthumous Narration: Within the first few minutes of the film, Lily tells us that she is 28 years old, and will never live to be 29.
  • Talking to Herself: Lily frequently talks to herself. Justified, as she's usually trying to calm herself down, and there's no-one else with whom she could speak.
  • Time Skip: After the incident with the phone, the narrative skips ahead eleven months.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Lily talks to an old friend over the phone in one of the first scenes of the film, but the friend never appears again.
  • Whispering Ghosts: One of the hauntings Lily suffers.