Is Things Heard and Seen Based on a True Story?

Directed by the wife-and-husband filmmaking duo Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini (‘American Splendor’), ‘Things Heard & Seen’ is a Netflix horror-thriller film that tells the story of a young couple, George Claire (James Norton) and Catherine Claire (Amanda Seyfried), who moves from New York City to the fictional town of Chosen with their daughter after George secures a teaching position at a local university. Catherine soon learns their new home is haunted by a woman who had to endure terrible spousal abuse.

As secrets from George’s dark past start to come into the light, Catherine realizes that the only person who can save her is her new friend from the world of the paranormal. Beyond the obvious supernatural and mystic elements, ‘Things Heard & Seen’ is a poignant feminist drama that candidly depicts male-inflicted violence. If you are wondering whether it is based on real-life events, here is what you need to know.

Is Things Heard & Seen Based on a True Story?

‘Things Heard & Seen’ is partially based on a true story. Springer Berman and Pulcini wrote the screenplay based on Elizabeth Brundage’s 2016 book ‘All Things Cease to Appear,’ which is loosely inspired by the 1982 gruesome murder of Cathleen Krauseneck in Brighton, New York. The first time Brundage heard about the case was when she was living in Brighton in 1992. On February 19, 1982, Cathleen’s husband, James Krauseneck, Jr., discovered her body after returning from work.

Image Credit: Democrat & Chronicle

She was killed on her bed with a blow from an ax, which was still lodged in her head. Their 3-year-old daughter, Sara, was in the house alone with her mother’s body for the entire day. According to Brundage, she was especially influenced by this. In an interview, she stated, “The thing that really motivated me to explore the [homicide] case as the potential architecture for a book were those long hours that this little girl was alone with her mother.” While she was composing the novel, she wrote about the important aspects of the murder in her efforts “to do right by Cathleen.”

If you’ve seen the Netflix film, then you know all too well that there is a similar scene in the movie. George and Catherine’s daughter, Franny (Ana Sophia Heger), spends the entire day in the house with her mother’s body in the bedroom. Her babysitter, Cole, comes and spends a significant time at the Claire residence. But even he doesn’t realize that something is wrong. After George returns from work, he lets the police know about the death of his wife through his neighbors.

As for Cathleen Krauseneck, her murder remained unsolved for decades until the police reopened the case in 2016 and began investigating with the FBI’s help. In November 2019, a grand jury handed down an indictment against James Krauseneck Jr, her husband, on a second-degree murder charge. James, in his late 60s at the time, was subsequently arrested and had to pay $100,000 in bail bond to be released. Since then, James and his lawyers have made several appearances in court to get the charges dropped. His next hearings fall in June 2021.

Read More: Things Heard & Seen Ending Explainer