Written by: Ben Collins & Luke Piotrowski
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Evan Jonigkeit, Stacy Martin
Losing a loved one from any condition breaks the heart understandably but when it comes from their own hands, like in suicide, it leaves so many questions where answers may never be provided. It impacts the grieving process, especially when it begins to linger in a more sinister way as displayed in The Night House. An incredibly tense narrative filled with unexpected moments and some damning reveals.
Following the suicide of her husband, Beth (Rebecca Hall) tries to move forward with her life but cannot fully bury the pain of what occurred. As she begins to experience supernatural sights in her house, she feels the need to get some answers, even if it means digging up some unsightly hidden truths.
The amount of pain stemming from Beth’s experience in this film cannot be quantified in any helpful manner, which allows the supernatural to play its own part to even try. In that sense, the narrative works on two levels. One where it can be experienced as a horror feature with its own scares and then the other level where it falls deep into the grief and the actions it makes the people do. Horror films accomplishing this usually stand the test of time and undoubtedly, this will be the same for The Night House. It comes filled with surprises and shocking turns that come earned through the narrative.
However, we cannot get too far into this review without talking about the brilliance of Rebecca Hall. An actor who continually puts on dynamite performance after dynamic performance, she accomplishes some great things in this feature. Having to do much of the work on her own opposite some negative space around her, she carries the emotional weight of this performance and the whole film, frankly. Even at its lowest points, she always proves to be a guiding light leading to the success of this feature. One scene, in particular, where she might have gained the adoration of educators everywhere comes from a conversation with a parent complaining about their child’s grade. As a teacher, she gives the response any educator would dream to blurt out to this parent, which does provide a cheer-worthy moment but also exemplifies just how tired this character is with everything going on in her life. Just a pitch-perfect moment and one Hall delivers with quite the zest for our enjoyment.
In its construction as a horror film, this film gets so much right in setting plenty of atmospheric pressure with the release bringing a level of catharsis. Combining the monumental grief Beth experiences with the horror of the situation she has found herself in makes for quite the ghastly duo and, in turn, makes for a captivating viewing experience. For much of the story, this scenario for her remains a demented mystery we’re all trying to figure out. The build-up to the ultimate discovery shows the film at its very best. However, by the time it gets to the finale and the discovery has been made, a bit of the momentum gets sucked out. The end result comes nowhere close to matching the build-up leading up to it, which unfortunately left me not necessarily loving the movie but definitely appreciating what it was going for in its attempt.
With this feature coming out so close to a much superior horror film about a woman dealing with an invisible, manly threat in The Invisible Man, it makes sense why this feature was lost in the shuffle. However, it very much stands on its own and brings its value in the way it tackles the crippling grief that comes with Beth’s experiences. The ending certainly did not do the rest of the story justice, but the entire build-up leading up to it did everything possible to have suspense and fright at its absolute peak even if it was let down at the end of it all. The scares in the feature certainly get the job done for what could be expected and it all gets held down by yet another strong performance by Rebecca Hall. Certainly one of the more underappreciated performers out there and she seemingly continues to get better with each new role she graces on the big screen for us.