HomeMovies'The Night House' is One of the Year's Best Horror Movies

‘The Night House’ is One of the Year’s Best Horror Movies

Rebecca Hall in the film THE NIGHT HOUSE.
Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved

It’s always great to see arthouse horror that doesn’t feature an A24 or IFC Films logo in front of it and Searchlight Pictures, formerly Fox Searchlight, delivers something really special with director David Bruckner’s The Night House.

Atmospheric horror is a term that’s become more and more prevalent within the indie horror scene and is something that The Night House absolutely nails through its secluded, lakeside setting. Bruckner, a V/H/S alum, treats the film’s central house like it’s part of a home invasion thriller in how he familiarizes you with it. Even when you find yourself in a room you’ve been in before, there’s something that feels off about it and there’s this uneasiness throughout that raises your hair. There’s a foreboding presence that grows throughout the film that leaves you cautiously curious and Bruckner utilizes some really amazing visuals to give this presence a unique form. Through the architecture and some shadowy illusions, Bruckner creates striking horror visuals that are incredibly creative and leave a lasting impression.

The Night House definitely goes for atmosphere over an onslaught of jump scares (although it does have a few that end up being very effective), which means it can contain some of the issues of atmospheric horror. There are times where you find yourself left deep in the dark as to what’s happening and itching for something to happen amongst the slow pacing. If you’re someone who wants your horror to never let off the gas and continually jar you with jump scares and action, then The Night House might not be your speed. However, the film’s true horrors come through its main story of a widow named Beth (Rebecca Hall) uncovering dark secrets about her husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit) and the house he built after he commits suicide.

The depiction of grief hits on a level of emotional power and horror akin to Hereditary, as Hall’s performance helps convey film’s haunting narrative from Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski. Beth’s struggles to deal with Owen’s suicide can be felt throughout and hits on a range of emotions that speaks to the stages and cycles of grief. Her anger comes out in passive aggressive remarks to other people’s comments about the situation that, in the moment, can be darkly hilarious, but embody the unresolved frustration Beth feels. Her growing obsession with uncovering the truth behind Owen’s suicide reflects her denial and it all builds towards her becoming consumed by her depression. Hall is immaculate from start to finish. Her haunting portrayal of grief elevates the genuine curiosity of the main mystery at hand.

The main aspect that makes The Night House not feel all too artsy to enjoy is its tantalizing mystery of what Owen was up to and the haunting presence within the house. The story and its themes about death are never too abstract and the film presents mysteries full of horror that you genuinely want to piece together. Every instance of Beth uncovering something new about Owen’s life and this mysterious second, nearly identical house draws you deeper into the mystery. Each new piece of information adds another layer to Owen’s second life and keeps you guessing as to what this horrifying force really means for Beth.

It’s even better that all this build-up and mystery sticks the landing incredibly well, with the last act being quite a horrifying ride. It presents a deeper understanding to what we’ve learned about Owen that’s more horrifying than initially imagined and ties back to a personal aspect of Beth’s past that creates an interesting depiction of death itself. It’s kind of an interesting twist on Death hunting people who escape its grasp in the Final Destination series, but is taken much more seriously and leaves you on the edge of your seat in the film’s final moments.

The Night House blends artistic, atmospheric horrors with an endlessly thrilling and engaging mystery to deliver one of the strongest horror offerings of the year thus far. Hall delivers a captivating performance and the film’s haunting themes and portrayals of death and grief evoke Hereditary vibes.

The Night House is now playing in theaters.

Tom Moore
Tom Moorehttps://mooreviews.com/
Tom is always ready to see and review everything horrifying and hilarious that hits theaters, television, and video games...sometimes. You can check out his other reviews and articles on his blog, Mooreviews.

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