The Night House: Film Review

The Night House

Searchlight Pictures

I’ve always thought Rebecca Hall was a terrific actress so The Night House is the perfect vehicle for her to show off what she can do – she gives an outstanding performance in this psychological horror.

The movie begins as Beth (Hall) returns home from her husband Owen (Evan Jongkeit)’s funeral. Although she’s still reeling from his sudden death, Beth insists to her friends that she’s fine to stay alone in the lakeside house that he built for them – that’s until night comes and she discovers a presence in the house. Is it her late husband trying to communicate? Something more sinister? Or is she losing her mind?

This film could have easily been a basic, generic haunted house horror but there’s far more substance to this than you might expect. Beth is a well-rounded, realistic and complex person who distracts herself from her grief by digging into her husband’s private life and discovering his shocking secrets. The film is as much about Beth getting to the bottom of the mystery about her husband’s sordid past as it is a supernatural horror and I thought both aspects of the film were written and executed incredibly well and there were a few twists that I didn’t see coming.

Director David Bruckner successfully creates a chilling atmosphere in the house, so much so that I got my jacket at the ready just below my eyes whenever nighttime rolled around. There are a couple of jump scares and plenty of moments that got my heart racing. The sound design also helps build tension and create an unsettling feeling – you can hear something moving but you don’t know what it is or how it will appear. Without getting too spoilery, I liked how whatever’s haunting Beth uses the house to manifest itself rather than appearing in corporeal form. As most horrors do, the scares start off small and then level up each night, building to a climactic sequence that I held my breath for the entire duration of. I didn’t love the ending and that has made me question how much I liked the movie, but as a whole, I enjoyed it.

The best element of the movie is Hall. She gives a staggering performance as this recently widowed woman who is grieving, struggling to cope with her shocking loss, medicating through alcohol, possibly losing her marbles and being haunted. That’s a LOT, but it seems effortless in Hall’s capable hands, and she throws her all into this role.

If you’re looking for a horror that is just wall-to-wall scares, The Night House isn’t for you. But if you want a substantial movie that’s a supernatural psychological horror as well as a study on grief then I definitely recommend giving this a whirl.

In cinemas Friday 20th August

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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