The Night House is a story about a widow, who upon looking into her late husband’s belongings, unravels a dark and terrible secret he had been keeping from her. With tense and gripping atmosphere throughout and a piercing performance from Rebecca Hall, this turned out to be a surprisingly awesome psychological, horror experience that is only let down by its disappointing ending.
Devastated by the recent suicide of her husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit), Beth (Rebecca Hall) finds herself drinking alone every night in the house that he built and going through his personal belongings to reminisce on the life she used to have. Things start to get creepy when strange occurrences happen in the house at night where it appears something beyond the grave is trying to reach out to her. Is it the alcohol, her imagination? Or could it be something more supernatural?
One day while going through Owen’s things, Beth stumbles across a photo of a woman who looks very similar to her on his phone – but it’s not her. Assuming Owen was having an affair, Beth starts to look more into her late husband’s hidden activities. Her investigation leads her down a dark and paranormal path resulting in increased and deadlier supernatural events occurring to her in the house.
As Beth pieces together the mysterious events of Owen’s secret life, she brings herself closer and closer to her husband’s fate. And possibly her own.
Rebecca Hall gives an award-worthy and intense performance as a school teacher on a mission to find the truth about her deceased husband while balancing her mixed emotions of grief, anger and jealousy. There are numerous memorable scenes like in the bar with her friends or her encounter with a parent of one her students where Hall expertly portrays a woman who is obviously suffering from the loss of her husband, but still carries herself with a level of strength and tenacity. She’s not a person easily broken or about to be walked over. Hall effortlessly carries the film and showcases her amazing acting talent with a script that engages the audience both intellectually and emotionally.
While the solid performance from Rebecca Hall and her co-stars really make The Night House worth watching, the main reason this film is so engaging and so much better than other horror movies of this style comes from the incredible direction of David Bruckner (The Ritual, The Signal). Bruckner masterfully balances the drama with the scary bits, making this feel like a thriller instead of a horror for the most part – until the horror happens. The sound is perfectly matched to the vision and I admit to jumping a few times (which doesn’t usually happen to me, I swear).
Because the focus is more about Beth trying to uncover if her husband was having an affair and then drinking away her sorrows – unsuccessfully – at night, the metaphysical elements of the story are able to come in at just the right moments and provide the horror like icing on a cake. You’re emotionally drawn into the sadness and jealousy of a widow trying to determine if her husband was unfaithful to her and then bam! – your emotions are startled as you are reminded this is a horror movie.
The Night House proved to be one of the best horror films of its type I’ve seen in a long time. While there’s a few questionable plot points and an ending that fails to deliver, this is still nonetheless a great psychological horror that maintains a tense and engaging atmosphere for the entire film. With an impressive performance from Rebecca Hall and a story that will keep you wondering what the heck is going to happen. Just remember to watch in the dark and with decent sound – like your local cinema.