'The Night House' Will Make You Scared of Your Own Home

Directed by David Bruckner

Starring Rebecca Hall, Evan Jonigkeit, Sarah Goldberg, Stacy Martin, Vondie Curtis-Hall

BY Marriska FernandesPublished Aug 19, 2021

The Night House is a film that invites you to witness a thrilling ghost story layered with a character-driven storyline and ample jump scares. The movie follows Beth (Rebecca Hall), a school teacher whose husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit) just died by suicide. Beth appears to be stoic, going back to her teaching gig a week after the events and being bluntly candid to those around her. However, in the privacy of her secluded lake house built by Owen, she self-medicates with alcohol as she packs up his belongings in boxes.

Soon, things start to move around in the house and she's woken up by sounds in the middle of the night. She starts to have nightmares and wakes up disoriented every morning. While investigating, she realizes that she might not have truly known her husband of 14 years. In an attempt for closure, she uncovers dark secrets that might be too dangerous for her.

Director David Bruckner clearly had a vision for this supernatural mystery, resulting in an entertaining film. The first half is a slow burn, as the camera swiftly glides around the house, lingering in hallways, with strange booming sounds that cut through the silence when you least expect it.

The smart storyline is anchored by a compelling performance by Rebecca Hall. She turns in a character that's equal parts sarcastic and witty while being incredibly stoic about her husband's death. Hall carries the emotional weight of the film on her shoulders and does so with an astute awareness, as her character slowly starts to spiral and question her reality. If you ever doubted the range and scope of Hall's work, this film will remind you of her sheer talent. It's rare for a female lead in a horror film to be given a fully fleshed out, character-driven narrative, and Hall soaks in every bit of her arc.

The film stands out with its spectacular cinematography and visual effects. Horror fans will appreciate how, when certain camera techniques are employed, it creepily captures the presence of a supernatural entity. In an genre too often filled with clichés and cheap jump scare tropes, such innovative camera work is quite a treat. The filmmakers impressively use negative space and architecture, like the pillars and beams, to play mind tricks on Beth as well as viewers. Emptiness has never felt so threatening, and it adds to the movie's mystery. There are genuine scares that feel earned and satisfying.

The movie, however, fails to persuade in the third act. When we're given all the pieces of the puzzle, we expect all the loose endings to be neatly tied. However, there are gaps in the plot and no clear explanation. The last threads should have been neatly woven together.

The Night House does offer plenty of innovative thrills, chills and scares, but a clearer ending would have taken it to the next level. Nevertheless, the film manages to stay will you long after the credits roll and you start to look at your dimly lit household and its architecture in a whole new way.
(Searchlight Pictures)

Latest Coverage