Title: ‘The Night House’
Director: David Bruckner (‘The Ritual’)
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Vondie Curtis Hall, Evan Jonigkeit, Stacy Martin, David Abeles and Christina Jackson
The seemingly most stable relationships often times make the most delectable to explore on screen. The underlying dynamics between the couple become increasingly precarious as their secrets are inadvertently revealed, which ultimately creates a hauntingly atmospheric conflict. That’s certainly the case for Golden Globe Award-nominated actress Rebecca Hall’s protagonist of Beth and her recently deceased husband in the new supernatural movie, ‘The Night House.’
The psychological thriller, which was written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, was directed by David Bruckner, who garnered acclaim in the horror genre with 2017’s ‘The Ritual.’ The captivating new story the filmmakers created enthrallingly explores the haunting themes of lies, deception and grief through Beth, who navigates a labyrinth of secrets that are connected to her late husband and the place she calls home.
Searchlight Pictures is distributing ‘The Night House’ today in theaters. The mystery drama’s official release comes after it had its world premiere at last year’s Sundance Film Festival.
‘The Night House’ follows upstate New York schoolteacher Beth as she’s reeling from the recent-and unexpected-suicide of her husband of 14 years, architect Owen (Even Jonigkeit). Left alone in the lakeside home he built for her, she tries the best she can to keep her life together, even though she was completely blindsided by his death; as far as she knew, she was the only one in their marriage who suffered from depression.
Driven by her initial anger that her husband took his own life, Beth decides to delve into the secrets he was keeping from her that prevented him from talking to her about his pain. Her investigation is questioned by the people who care about her, including her colleague Claire (Sarah Goldberg) and neighbor Mel (Vondie Curtis Hall), but she rebuffs their offers of support.
Beth’s feeling that she was abandoned by Owen slowly starts to dissipate when she begins having mysterious dreams at night. The dreams are accompanied by disturbing visions of a presence in the house that’s calling to her. The dreams and visions compel her to start digging further into her husband’s belongings and digital history. What she ultimately finds are shocking revelations involving his secretive belief in the occult, which leaves her with more questions about the live he was leading while he was still alive than answers.
Bruckner brilliantly adapted Collins and Piotrowski’s profound script, which effortlessly interwove powerful, relatable emotions about the struggles that a person who unexpectedly loses their spouse experiences. The movie’s intriguing and menacing narrative hauntingly chronicles Beth’s complete range of emotions that she’s contending with as she passes through numerous phases of grief. Those phases include her feeling simultaneously terrified and enraged by the supernatural forces that are violating her home and the memory of her marriage.
Hall was perfectly cast as ‘The Night House’s relatable protagonist, as the actress was able to naturally encapsulate the complete range of emotions that Collins and Piotrowski wrote for her character in the screenplay. The performer gave a captivating performance as the headstrong Beth, who’s contending with a wide range of emotions as she searches for answers about why Owen had secrets, and how those mysteries influenced their marriage and lives.
The protagonist’s increasing determination to uncover why her husband was leading a double life is also powerfully brought to the screen through cinematographer Elisha Christian gripping aesthetic style in how he filmed Hall’s performance. Through an equally somber and stylized widescreen lens, the cinematographer created a visually discomfiting atmosphere that engulfs the actress in looming environments, such the titular isolated house and the forest that surrounds it, whenever her character feels defeated by her dreams and visions. Conversely, whenever Beth musters up any courage as she explores her home in order to find answers about her husband’s transgressions, Christian tightly frames the performer’s subtle expressions, which powerfully highlight how her character tries to mask her emotions from the world.
‘The Night House’ is a thought-provoking supernatural film that thrives on building the mystery behind Beth and Owen’s marriage, and the long-lasting psychological effects that grief leaves on surviving spouses when they discover that the person they thought they knew and loved was hiding secrets. Stunningly driven by Hall’s emotionally captivating performance as the versatile protagonist and Christian’s visually stylized cinematography, which are the pinnacle of any mystery thriller, ‘The Night House’ is a haunting entry in the overall horror genre that won’t soon be forgotten.