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The brutal true story behind Netflix's new thriller Things Heard and Seen

Amanda Seyfried and James Norton both star in the film

things heard and seen
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
6 May 2021
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If you've watched Netflix's latest thriller, Things Heard and Seen, then you'll likely know that the movie is an adaptation of Elizabeth Brundage's gripping novel, All Things Cease To Appear.

But did you know that the story itself was loosely inspired by a real-life crime?

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The movie, which boasts Amanda Seyfried and James Norton as its leading stars, tells the story of a successful Manhattan couple who move their family to the suburbs in an effort to build a new life, but things take a dark turn on their arrival. Warning! Spoilers ahead...

WATCH: Netflix's Things Heard and Seen - Official trailer

Things Heard and Seen makes a swift gear change when husband and wife, Catherine and George, discover that their house is haunted. However, Catherine soon realises that the ghost and supernatural beings in their home is the least of her worries.

George soon begins an affair with another woman and it also becomes apparent that he's a fraudster who forged documents to work as a lecturer at the local college.

Then, George's dark side comes to light as he murders his boss after a confrontation and attempts to murder Catherine's friend Justine after she discovers his affair. George then eventually kills his wife, Catherine, with an axe, leaving their daughter, Franny, alone in the house.

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netflix amanda seyfried© Photo: Netflix

Have you watched the new horror film?

If the story sounds familiar to viewers, then there's a tragic reason. Dubbed part-murder mystery, part-ghost story, the film has, naturally, added embellishments such as name changes, supernatural elements and a number of tweaks to the plot. But the bare bones of the story was inspired by a real-life murder, according to the New York Post.

In 1989, 29-year-old Cathleen was found dead at her home in New York with an axe lodged in her head, while her daughter was sat quietly in her room. James Krauseneck Jr., claimed he had found his wife's body and immediately called the cops. His alibi noted he was at work all day.

However, after further investigation it was later discovered that James had fooled his employers and, similar to the film, his wife had learned shortly before her death that he had lied about completing his doctorate. After more forensic evidence was found, James was indicted by a grand jury in 2019 with second-degree murder – he pleaded not guilty. 

He was released on bail and is awaiting further trial in the summer after a delay due to the pandemic. 

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