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The Night House - Movie Review

The Night House

What makes for great horror? Some prefer in-your-face blood and graphic violence, while others are spooked by the unsettling things that can’t be seen – the things that happen just off screen or in the corners of the frame. Well, fans of the latter, do we have a film for you!

"a spooky little journey into terror that will leave the hair on the back of your neck standing on end"


 

Davis Bruckner’s The Night House is an ominous little haunted house thriller that doubles as a scintillating supernatural puzzle. And while it takes on many of the themes common to the horror genre – mortality, grief, death, depression, and fear, there are a couple of things Bruckner doesn’t feature. Missing are the buckets of blood, weapons of death, and an endless barrage of jump scares. And The Night House is a better film because of it.

That’s not to say the film isn’t scary. It is. And while some may argue it is more mystery/thriller than horror, the fact remains that The Night House is a spooky little journey into terror that will leave the hair on the back of your neck standing on end.

The film opens as Beth (Rebecca Hall, Christine) is grieving the recent suicide death of her husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit, X-Men: Days of Future Past). She is not handling the loss very well as her idle time is spent tipping the bottle and rummaging through her late architect husband’s belongings – never the proper way to deal with one’s grief. Fortunately, she has a close friend in Claire (Sarah Goldberg) and a caring neighbor, Mel (Vondie Curtis-Hall) to look after her well being.

Impeding Beth’s road to healing are the strange things happening inside the house Owen built for his wife. The floorboards creak, the stereo suddenly turns on, and shadows appear and then disappear just beyond her vision. Is Beth losing her mind or is she the victim of a house that is now haunted? We never really find out, and that’s part of the effectiveness of the story from writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski. We are left as much in the lurch as is Beth.The Night House

Much of the film’s driving force comes from Beth’s eventual realization that she never really knew her husband – an absolutely terrifying discovery for anyone. She thought she did, but when looking through a book of Owen’s architectural drawings, Beth uncovers the plans for a house with a “reverse floor plan,” which she eventually discovers is an architectural feature that was used in ancient times as a means of confusing malevolent forces. Does that mean her husband was up to something nefarious – dabbling in the occult maybe, or were they simply senseless doodles from a man who draws for a living? Beth’s sense of dread is suddenly heightened when she discovers some photos on Owen’s phone of another woman as well as some sort of sexualized voodoo doll.

Leading the charge in what is almost a one-person show is Hall with her Beth sinking into a convincing character who swings from confrontation, to wit, to vulnerability – sometimes in a single scene – throughout her evolution into madness as her drive to uncover the truth slowly turns her marriage into a captivatingly dangerous detective story. In many scenes with only her face filling the screen, Hall is completely believable as her Beth delivers emotion effortlessly.

The descent into madness happening in The Night House is a beautiful thing to watch as both the set design and the house itself take on a life of their own and become characters as big and lively as any of the human actors. A few minimal FX enhancements catch us off guard in the edges of the frame as lamp shades, shadows, and decorative columns occasionally morph into human form… or do they?

Those who love their horror served up in heaps of violence and bloodletting may find themselves a bit underwhelmed, if not totally frustrated. However, mystery lovers or those who dig a mesmerizing slow burn will have plenty to be entertained by. How well do you know your loved one?

4/5 stars

Film Details

The Night House

MPAA Rating: R for some violence/disturbing images, and language including some sexual references.
Runtime:
108 mins
Director
: David Bruckner
Writer:
Ben Collins; Luke Piotrowski
Cast:
Rebecca Hall; Sarah Goldberg; Vondie Curtis-Hall
Genre
: Thriller | Gorror
Tagline:

Memorable Movie Quote: "There's nothing after you."
Theatrical Distributor:
Searchlight Pictures
Official Site: https://www.searchlightpictures.com/thenighthouse/
Release Date:
August 20, 2021
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
.
Synopsis: A widow begins to uncover her recently deceased husband's disturbing secrets.

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The Night House

 

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