I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House (2016) Movie Script

I have heard myself say
that a house with a death in it
can never again be bought
or sold by the living.
It can only be borrowed from the ghosts
that have stayed behind.
To go back and forth,
letting out and gathering back in again.
Worrying over the floors
in confused circles.
Tending to their deaths
like patchy, withered gardens.
They have stayed
to look back for a glimpse
of the very last moments of their lives.
But the memories of their own deaths
are faces on the wrong side
of wet windows,
smeared by rain.
Impossible to properly see.
There is nothing
that chains them to the places
where their bodies have fallen.
They are free to go,
but still they confine themselves,
held in place by their looking.
For those who have stayed,
their prison is their never seeing.
And left all alone,
this is how they rot.
I did not know it at the time,
but the house that stands
at the end of Teacup Road
in the town of Braintree, Massachusetts,
was such a house.
A house that holds a seat
for the memory of a death.
The staying place of a rotted ghost.
At the time of my arrival
in the first part of August,
the house was occupied by Iris Blum,
the author of 13 novels.
The kinds of thick and frightening books
that people buy at airports
and supermarkets.
Of her books, I have read fewer
than nine pages of only a single one...
and all the while
suppressing a very bad taste.
I am not even sure of the title.
From where I am now,
I can be sure of only a very few things.
The pretty thing you are looking at is me.
Of this I am sure.
My name is Lily Saylor.
I am a hospice nurse.
Three days ago, I turned 28 years old.
I will never be 29 years old.
She's just above,
the bedroom on the right
in the front of the house.
Hello, Ms. Blum.
My name is Lily.
I'm going to be staying with you
from now on. I hope that's all right.
No snooping, you.
I am very seldom required
to wear white by my employers.
But, anyway, I always do.
It has always been that wearing white
reassures the sick
that I can never be touched.
Even as darkness folds in on them
from every side...
closing like a claw.
Wake up, spaz.
Then go to sleep.
I don't know what.
Is Bart in there with you?
You slut.
Is he awake?
Tell him hi.
No, no, no!
Don't tell him who it is, just...
What are you guys doing?
You guys are lame.
Couldn't sleep.
The first night in a place
always weirds me out, you know.
The phone is in the kitchen.
What do you want?
It's got one of those
ridiculously long cords
that your mom used to have.
Remember that?
Well, it's a real old house, so...
I don't know.
They're thicker?
The walls are thicker.
Why would you say that to me right now,
in the middle of the night
when I'm here all alone?
I'm okay.
No, he hasn't called.
And he doesn't have this number.
I can't imagine what I'd say if he did.
I mean, what does a person say?
"Remember that time we almost
but then didn't get married?
'Cause I do."
No, I don't think he will, either.
Can we not talk
about Scott right now, please?
Yeah. It'll be good to be here.
Good to be away.
Just good to kinda put myself away for...
What are you guys doing?
Well, that sounds pretty yummy
right about now.
Yeah. I know.
I'm sure I'll end up
cooking a bunch for Ms. Blum.
No. It's Blum, stupid. Not Ms. Plum.
This isn't Clue.
Well, maybe I'll bake a pie.
I think I saw some blackberry...
The phone just flew out of my hand.
The cord not as long as it seems?
Or I dropped it, like a stupid idiot.
I'm gonna give myself a heart attack.
what's new with you?
It was just there,
even then.
On my very first night in the house.
A death.
But I cannot see it.
Not yet.
But I can feel it shifting its weight
from bare foot to bare foot.
Stepping around softly
behind a curtain of dark.
Pacing back and forth
in the cage of my chest.
"Dark Moon Flower."
"Underwater Housewife."
So that's where you're hiding.
They told me there wasn't one of you,
and I don't mind telling you,
I was a little worried.
Come on.
Well, no need to be rude.
Ms. Blum.
You scared me.
Well, let's get you back.
Now, I'm thinking
it's not the best idea for you
to be getting up without me from now on.
Can we agree to that?
My name is Lily, Ms. Blum.
We met a few hours ago.
I'm going to be staying here with you
from now on.
My Polly, tell me you missed me
just a little bit too.
You'll give me as much as that, won't you?
It can't be too much longer now.
Because time spent in a house
with a death in it
passes more quickly, you know.
Eleven months.
Passing like the night.
Candice and Jane.
This is how you rot.
Was the drive all right?
Yes. The summer season finally done
and everyone going the other way
over bridges.
- And how is the lady of the house today?
- She's comfortable.
Taking a nap,
as she usually does at this time.
And the wall, you say?
It was fine when I first moved in,
but now I think it's gotten much worse
in the past few weeks.
Possibly a mold of some kind.
Likely there is some plumbing
behind the wall,
- a pipe that runs up to the bathroom.
- The laundry room is just above, I...
I sometimes hear the water going up
and a kind of knocking sound.
You say you haven't seen it anywhere else?
No. Only right here.
Well... As to whether or not
the estate will approve the cost
for cosmetic repairs,
that is another thing altogether.
I'm not sure I'd agree it's cosmetic.
Well, cosmetic as opposed to structural.
The flesh and not the bones.
Well, I just thought
that for Ms. Blum's respiratory...
For my respiratory to be...
breathing mold.
Well, as you know,
it is Ms. Blum's stated desire
to remain in this house
until the occasion of her death
and that all medical care be provided
here on the premises regardless
of financial burden to the estate.
And you've been here
nearly a year already.
Well, given her advanced age
and present condition,
it seems fair to assume
that your arrangement
would not extend beyond
another year or two at maximum,
wouldn't you say?
Overall, I'd say her physical health
is rather good.
Um, so, I'm sure I couldn't say.
No, no. Of course. Of course.
That's... good.
But, um...
Isn't she all there is to the estate?
She doesn't have any children,
no family.
Not a single visitor
in all the time I've been here.
True, but Ms. Blum
has designated the property
as the centerpiece for a grant foundation
to be awarded after her death
to a worthy woman author
as a home and work space at no cost.
"House of Stories," she calls it.
Well, it'll have to be fixed up then,
for whoever.
Well, it will be, when the time comes.
But the estate can't pay for everything.
Here we are.
They've been out in the past
and will give us a better idea.
- Was there anything else?
- No.
Do you know anything
about anyone named Polly?
Polly? Polly who?
Ms. Blum insists on calling me Polly.
She never calls me anything else.
Of course, it's a natural thing
for someone with her condition.
It's just that a confusion like that
is usually with the memory
of someone significant.
Not just a no one.
Well, there is Polly
from Ms. Blum's novel,
The Lady in the Walls.
Easily her best known.
You haven't read it.
Heavens to Betsy, no, I haven't.
No, um, I scare too easily. I...
Yes, that's right.
Well, there is a not-very-good movie,
if you prefer.
No. No.
That would be much, much worse.
I'd likely run down to the road screaming.
And who'd look after Miss Blum?
That particular novel was most notable
for Ms. Blum's deliberate choice...
to leave off
the presumably horrific ending.
Though she always insisted
it wasn't a choice at all,
but rather an obligation.
An obligation to be true to the subject.
To Polly.
I don't understand.
Well, I don't want to give it away.
But, Mr. Waxcap, I...
I'll never read it.
I'd hate to keep you.
The house was built in 1812
by the two bare hands of a local man,
as a gift to his new bride.
The couple was last seen
taking their marriage vows
in the center of town.
And the very next day, they were gone...
disappearing before placing
a single piece of furniture.
The townspeople shook their heads
and clucked their tongues.
"Some people," they'd say,
"just get spooked."
Well, well.
You're not so big and tough.
The pretty thing
you are looking at now is me.
My name is Polly Parsons
and I came into the world
just as I left it.
I'm not more than a few minutes old
and my mother is already dead,
her forehead slick with sweat,
and cool with the pallor
of icebox butter.
I am tied to my mother's body
by a terrible rope
that is a shiny, twisted
midnight blue-black.
The doctor is holding me up to the light.
But now I am dead.
And yes, I left the world
just as I came into it.
I am wearing nothing but blood.
I am as white as a sail.
I tell this often to myself.
I tell myself that nothing gets on me.
But it does me little good.
The words pour right through.
I am too full of holes.
Grow up, you dumb old scaredy-cat.
It's just a bunch of silly old
make-believe typed words on paper.
"Dear Reader,
You should know that the true account
that follows in this book
was told to me directly by Polly Parsons,
the young woman who lived it
but, alas, did not survive it.
True to our heroine, my heroine,
I have written down
all that she cared to reveal.
All but the very ending,
which she was either unable
or unwilling to tell me herself.
Or maybe
she just couldn't see it anymore."
"And even if I was fiendishly tempted,
I have refrained
from pressing the subject with her.
Though it seems safe to assume
that, as endings go,
Polly's was not an especially pretty one.
But Polly wouldn't tell me herself,
and I couldn't have gone
and simply made something up.
So I have left it off altogether.
Out of respect for the dead,
you understand.
Because yes, dear reader,
Polly Parsons, the subject of this book,
is quite dead indeed.
Quite dead but not quite buried.
Carelessly concealed in a grave
too shallow to be rightly called
a grave at all.
Better to call it a... hiding place.
But I've said too much already,
and now will leave the rest
to Polly herself,
as was my intention in the first place.
Iris Blum,
Braintree, Massachusetts, 1960."
You silly Billy.
You silly Billy.
The walls and windows
are as thin as bones.
A person could walk right through them.
Just up and leave this old house.
No whammies, no whammies,
no whammies. Stop.
No whammies, no whammies,
no whammies. Stop.
No whammies, no whammies,
no whammies. Stop.
No whammies, no whammies,
no whammies. Stop.
This is how you rot.
It's safe, though?
I mean, nothing is gonna fall down?
And when do you think
you can come to do that?
To open it up? To...
open up the wall, I mean.
Yeah, Monday is okay.
Any day is okay. I'm not going anywhere.
I haven't really looked. I...
I kind of hate the sight of it.
But okay.
I can.
I will.
Okay. Thanks.
"I now believe Polly entirely
when she insists
that she does not remember
what happened to her in the end.
I can sometimes see her struggle
with the shape of it,
more as if trying to remember
a song she once heard,
and not as she might remember an event.
How does one forget
something as essential as that?
How does one forget a death?
Maybe it is the body that remembers.
And without the body,
there is nothing to hold to."
"We make our own ghosts by looking,
but pretending not to see...
and then forgetting ourselves altogether.
It is a terrible thing to look at oneself
and to all the while see nothing.
Surely this is how we make our own ghosts.
We make them out of ourselves."
I took one of your books
off the shelf in your study.
I hope that's all right.
The Lady in the Walls.
Had to put it down, though.
Too scary for me.
You know that one, don't you?
Where did you go, Polly?
I didn't go anywhere, Ms. Blum.
I'm here with you,
same as I have always been.
The same Lily Saylor
of 43 Hoover Road, Altoona...
At your service.
You had so much to say
in those first years.
When you lived here with me.
Enough to fill a book.
And then...
You turned your back.
You turned your back,
and you turned your back
so many times...
that soon your feet
were facing the wrong way altogether.
And I had to watch you come into a room...
back to front.
I did nothing but sit and listen.
I made no noises.
I welcomed no visitors.
And here, now, you've come back.
But only to hurt me,
only to show yourself,
- but not to let me see.
- No.
You hardly resemble yourself.
Ms. Blum... please.
You poor, pretty things
whose prettiness
holds only one guarantee.
Learn to see yourself as the rest
of the world does, and you'll keep.
But left alone, with only your
own eyes looking back at you,
and even the prettiest things rot.
You fall apart like flowers.
The pretty thing
you are looking at is me.
But it is me that still cannot see
any of what is coming.
Me that doesn't even know where to look.
Me that can see
only the drawer that opens
and the claw that closes.
The bell that rings
and the spots that spread.
The holes that pour through
and the cord that stretches.
The hammer and the pliers.
And the terrible book.
And the face of the woman
who wrote it all down.
The me that can see only the name.
Only her name.
But the rest of what is coming
cannot be seen
even as I look right at it.
It is a terrible thing
to look at oneself
and all the while see nothing.
I had arrived
in the first few days of August,
hired to care for Ms. Blum.
The winter of that year
proved to be unseasonably warm,
and by February,
all that was left of the snow
on the sides of the highways
had turned mostly black.
It rained too much in the spring,
and the fruit in the trees hung heavy
at the ends of bent branches.
The sun in the summer months
was unreasonably hot
and stung my bare shoulders
whenever I let it.
I remember thinking
that it felt like fall would never come.
And then it never did.
I have heard myself say
that a house with a death in it
can never again be bought
or sold by the living.
It can only be borrowed from its ghosts.
And so it is.
The house that stands
at the end of Teacup Road
near the town of Braintree, Massachusetts.
You may borrow it from me.
Because the memory of a death
is a thing that stays,
pressed deeply in place
like type on paper.
Even after it has been covered up
with nothing left to see.
And still I think I'll stay
for one more look at her.
This is how I let myself rot.
The pretty thing you are looking at...
is me.