The Night House Summary & Review - A Haunting Triumph

 


Beth Parchin: Rebecca Hall
Owen Parchin: Evan Jonigkeit
Claire: Sarah Goldberg.
Mel: Vondie Curtis-Hall
Madelyne: Stacy Martin
Becky: Samantha Buck
Director: David Bruckner
Writers: Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski
Release: 2021

Opening with a post-funerial scene introducing Beth, a grieving widow who is in deep shock following the sudden death of her beloved husband, "The Night House" draws the audience into the eerie corridors of psychological horror, taking us on a journey through grief, when it collides with the spectral unknown. From its beautiful cinematography to the stellar performances, the elements of this film converge to create an atmospheric experience that resonates after the credits roll.

Following her husband's death, Beth drags herself through a haze of grief as she struggles to maintain a sense of normality while grappling with the shocking reality of what has occurred. It's not long before she experiences a series of unsettling events that, at first, leave her confused and then slowly she starts to believe that her dead husband is trying to contact her. Plagued by unnerving dreams where the boundaries between illusion and reality blur, Beth sets out to unravel the mystery and discover whether there really is life after death, uncovering a trail of secrets and lies that threaten both her sanity and her life.

"The Night House" is unashamedly a slow-burn psychological horror that never falls into the trap of equating slow-burn with a lack of activity. There is plenty going on but the layers are carefully peeled back to give you enough of a peek behind the curtain to want to know what happens next. The air of menace builds until it snowballs into a maze of alternate realities in the third act, which is in contrast to the the careful staging up until this point, but it works by maintaining its, by now, signature stylishness.

The bulk of the story takes place in a stunning lakeside location and the director makes the most of this. The cinematography in "The Night House" is gorgeous. Eerie shots of the lakefront home, engulfed in darkness and mystery, set the stage for the haunting tale that unfolds within its walls. The sense of isolation and foreboding is skillfully captured and each scene feels meticulously designed, drawing viewers deeper into the protagonist's unravelling psyche. On the downside, it sometimes felt a little too carefully crafted but avoided becoming contrived by some measure and is compelling viewing, nonetheless.

Rebecca Hall's performance as the grieving widow is a tour de force that anchors the film with a combination of raw emotion and vulnerability. Interestingly, Beth isn't a character you instantly warm to, being somewhat brittle and cynical, but it's to Hall's credit that she leads us to root for Beth through the change curve, from bereft confusion to embittered anger to sheer terror.

The "The Night House" is a labyrinth of twists and turns, keeping the viewer in a state of heightened tension until the end. The narrative is equal parts psychological thriller and supernatural horror, blending elements of grief and guilt and what lies beyond with spine-tingling suspense. Instead of relying on jumps cares, clever editing creates illusions in the background where you are never quite sure whether you've seen something lurking in the shadows. Or not.

Added to this, clever lighting design manipulates light and shadow to evoke a sense of primal fear and heightens the film's sense of dread and unease. From the flickering glow of candlelight to the harsh glare of fluorescent bulbs, every light source serves to deepen the shadows and amplify the sense of impending doom. 

If you're seeking an jump-scare filled experience, "The Night House" won't stir you but it is a haunting triumph that grips viewers from its opening moments and refuses to let go. It's a must-see for fans of psychological horror and David Bruckner has crafted a chilling tale that lingers in the memory. It brings an interesting take on what lies beyond this life and if you peer into the abyss, "The Night House" awaits with open arms.

4/5

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