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I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is a 2016 American-Canadian horror film written and directed by Osgood ‘Oz’ Perkins, son of Anthony Perkins. Osgood’s first acting role was in 1983’s Psycho II, in which he briefly appeared as the twelve-year-old version of the Norman Bates character his father had portrayed. Keeping it in the family, Elvis Perkins provided the film’s score.

Ruth Wilson stars as a live-in nurse who suspects her elderly employer’s house may be haunted. It premiered at the 2016 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) and debuted on Netflix on October 28, 2016.


Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Oz Perkins explained what inspired him:

“I had written a shorter thing about a woman in a head cast, who was in a bed in an old American house, whose father was a horror writer, and she was being taken care of by nurses. Then, one day, it just changed. I’m a believer that, once you start writing something, it does take on a life of its own. I had laid all the track for this one thing, and it just reversed itself, and bloomed into this thing. A lot of the best, dreamy stuff happens that way.”

Main cast:

Ruth Wilson, Paula Prentiss, Bob Balaban (Altered States) and Lucy Boynton


When author Iris Bloom becomes bedridden, her estate manager, Mr. Waxcap, hires a live-in nurse, Lily. Lily comes to believe that Bloom’s most popular horror novel may be based on a real-life murder Bloom possibly committed at the house…



“Proving February was no fluke, Perkins has made a vintage haunted-house thriller that owes more to the creeping dread of Polanski, Kubrick or Lynch than to more bloodthirsty recent subgenres of horror. It may ultimately impress more with its brooding literary atmosphere than with its familiar narrative ingredients, but this crisp little mood piece still jangles the nerves.” Stephen Dalton, The Hollywood Reporter

” …Brit stage luminary Wilson delivers a hardworking turn that nonetheless can’t render a familiar character type fascinating enough in a vacuum, with so little support in the writing … Aesthetically, the stripped-down yet opaque qualities of “Pretty Thing” work to a degree. As applied to story and character definition, however, that same stylistic approach ends up making the film seem simply undercooked.” Dennis Harvey, Variety


“This is not a movie of gore or plot. Instead, voice-over in lyrically written prose from the nurse guides viewers on a meditation through the haunted house, while we watch her fix the carpet that’s always somehow folding over (even though she’s the only one who’s walking around), or run her finger over a bubble under the whitewashed walls of the pristine colonial home of her new patient, elderly horror novelist Iris Blum (Paula Prentiss).” April Wolf, The Village Voice

“It’s commendable that Perkins seems wholly uninterested in the tropes of the genre: there’s only one jump scare, hardly any gore and no final girl. The elusiveness of the narrative, however, grows weary fast. When Polly eventually makes an appearance, Perkins stubbornly keeps the reason behind her undoing murky. There is zero payoff, so why stick with it?” Nigel M Smith, The Guardian

” …a horror movie that forgot to be a horror movie—void of any real scares, Perkins’ sophomore effort is all about exposition and building atmospheric tension within the walls of an old home. The problem, however, is that the film never does anything interesting (or even remotely scary) with all the tension it so meticulously creates.” Ryan, The Missing Reel

“It’s something that might have worked even better as a short film or an episode of an anthology series, as one can feel it stretching to meet a short running time … It’s a movie that’s too opaque and unusual for some viewers, but those who do give in to its unique rhythms and approach will find something often haunting and ultimately rewarding.” Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com

Cast and characters:

  • Ruth Wilson … Lily
  • Paula Prentiss … Iris Bloom
  • Bob Balaban … Mr. Waxcap
  • Lucy Boynton … Polly

Filming locations:

Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

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