Night House, The

Rating:

“Not Quite the Movie I Thought, But Still One of the Best I’ve Seen in a While”

Main Cast: Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg

Director: David Bruckner

When Beth’s husband Owen blows his brains out in their rowboat on the lake their house overlooks, Beth is, understandably, left confused.

She had no idea he was depressed.  She didn’t even know they owned a gun.  His note, however … she understands the note, even if it just raises more questions.

“You were right.

There’s nothing.

Nothing is after you.

You’re safe now.”

See, when Beth was 17, she was in a car accident that left her dead for 4 minutes.  During that time, Beth saw just what Owen said: nothing.  No light at the end of the tunnel.  If anything, she tells her colleague and friend, Claire, there’s just tunnel.

So if there’s nothing … who or what is now occupying the lake house with Beth?

A dream one night sets her on a path of discovery, a dream in which Owen calls her in the middle of the night.  The dream felt so real, she checks her phone the next morning only to find no call from her husband.  But, man, it felt … okay, just to double check, she searches Owen’s phone, too.  No new texts or calls to her phone.  There is, however, a picture of Beth she didn’t know he’d taken.

Or is it?  No, on second thought, that’s not Beth.  It LOOKS an awful lot like Beth.  Same build, same long dark hair.  But Beth doesn’t own that blouse.  So who is this woman?

There are worse things to find out, Claire tells her, than that he was cheating on you.

Curious to see who this woman was, Beth searches the photos on Owen’s computer, too, finding a few more shots of the same woman.  And then several shots of several other women, all of whom bear that at-first-glance resemblance to Beth.

And then there’s the matter of the rough draft, unfinished mirror version of their house she finds on the opposite side of the lake where they live.

And the strange occult books dealing with mazes and Owen’s handwritten note to “trick it.”

Written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski and directed by David Bruckner, 2021’s THE NIGHT HOUSE was a movie I had skipped during its VERY brief theatrical run in August, and then its subsequent DVD release, because there had been so little hype surrounding it, and then it vanished so quickly from the theater, my initial thought was “Well, it must have sucked.”

Then I heard a review of THE NIGHT HOUSE on a horror podcast I listen to (BLOODY GOOD HORROR) and the movie they were talking about sounded damn good.  It also sounded really friggin’ depressing, but in the end, the movie they were describing sounded so incredibly sweet and heartfelt, it sounded like just the thing for my wife and I to watch together.

Now, there were a few plot elements they either missed or I just didn’t hear them mention, but the movie I THOUGHT I was watching was, for the most part, the movie I watched, with one pretty important change in the motivation of one of the characters.  I’m not going to go into it here because it would be a huge spoiler for the climax of the movie, and I don’t want to do that.  Instead, I want you to watch it, but to go in as clean as possible, save the knowledge that this is a really effective horror movie.

The jump scares are present, but not obvious or gratuitous, and THE NIGHT HOUSE has atmosphere to spare.

Rebecca Hall turns in probably the best performance I’ve ever seen from her, and I’ve seen several.  She plays Beth in her current state with just the right amount of not giving a sh*t but still holding out hope that those knocks in the middle of the night and the footsteps she sees leading from the lake, up the dock and to the house, might be Owen come back to her.

Vondie Curtis-Hall plays Mel, a neighbor, in a role I doubt even Carl Lumbly could have done better and Sarah Goldberg as Claire provides the devil’s advocate to all of Beth’s suspicions while also being the friendly ear who’ll listen to her every theory.

It is a shame that movies like THE NIGHT HOUSE get lost in the shuffle.  As much as I loved watching it on our TV with Kara next to me on the couch and being able to pause it to go to the bathroom, I know I would have loved it even more in the theater with those speakers.  I didn’t mention the sound design which, on this movie, kudos to whoever was in charge.  I can only imagine how much more effective it would have been in the theater.

It might not be the SCARIEST movie ever made, but Bruckner knows the tropes and expectations of the genre and he plays with them constantly throughout, leaving you anticipating that big moment several times. I’ve said all I can say without giving away too much, so I’ll just wrap it up with this: watch the movie.  Go buy THE NIGHT HOUSE and add it to your library, it’s one of those.

More Horror Corner

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