Things Heard & Seen on Netflix: What did that odd and unsettling ending even mean?
Two hours of my life for that?
Netflix has just released a new part psychological thriller, part haunted house horror film in the form of Things Heard & Seen. When you get over the glistening cast, featuring Amanda Seyfried, James Norton and Natalie Dyer, the film needs a bit of explaining – you can tell there’s a message behind the ending of Things Heard & Seen, but what exactly is it?
Based on the novel All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage, the film follows Catherine and George Claire as they move to a new town and into a house. But it’s clear that there’s more than just them in the home – lights flicker, there are strange sounds and movements at night and the couple’s daughter says she sees a woman in her room when she’s trying to sleep.
Catherine gets a local spirit group in to check it all out, and at the same time we’re learning that George is an absolute wrong’un. This all spirals out of control and cumulates in what can only been described as an odd and pretty disturbing ending – so here’s the conclusion of Things Heard & Seen explained.
The message behind Things Heard & Seen and the ending explained
So, during the film Catherine learns all about the previous owners of the house. Calvin and Ella Vayle lived there with their two children, and Calvin drugged them, before starting up the trucks in the garage and going to bed. Calvin and Ella both died. This explains why Catherine said she could smell car exhausts whilst she was trying to sleep.
At first, Catherine believes the spirit in her house is of the first owners, but when she hears this story she knows the spirit she is seeing and witnessing is Ella. But the spirit of Ella is not the only one in the house. It soon becomes clear that her husband, Calvin, is still in the house too. And as they said when the group visited the house, evil spirits are attracted to evil, and only linger where they are wanted.
The ending of the film also sees the web of lies George has tried to keep from Catherine come falling apart around him. He didn’t want her to know what had happened in their house and he lied about his letter of recommendation for his job – which his boss finds out about and then mysteriously washes up on the shore dead on the same night George comes home dripping wet. George also basically stole the identity of his cousin to get into art school. The cousin died at sea, which if you think sounds familiar is because it’s definitely meant to suggest that George did that too.
Catherine then attempts to flee the house and take their daughter Franny with her. But she can’t escape, and George cannot escape the evil spirits which are guiding him.
It seems like the same story happens with the couple who live in that house over and over again. The spirit tells Catherine: “As she was there for me, I am here for you”. The evil spirit of Calvin is interfering with George, whilst the spirit of Ella is attempting to protect Catherine from a similar fate to hers.
In the end, George kills Catherine and tries to claim it was a robbery gone wrong. But, the people in the town know the truth – and they know what happens to the women who live in that house.
George is still haunted by the spirit of Calvin, and the final scene sees him sailing out to sea, where he imagines that he is sailing to the gates of hell, just like one of the paintings that he teaches about depicts. The camera then zooms back into the old picture of the first couple who lived in the house, and it focuses on the ring – which is now clear as being a symbol of the women of the house helping one another.
Shari Springer Berman, the writer of the film, told Decider that she sees the final scene as a “metaphor for all the women who have been abused… gaining some power”.
Things Heard & Seen is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.