David Bruckner’s “The Night House” is arriving just as the summer is concluding to provide the blockbuster season with a smaller film that just so happens to hit with the same impact as the biggest studio tentpoles. Something that to be honest, I wasn’t expecting from watching the trailer. Now, I love Rebecca Hall. I feel she never fails to fill a character with plenty of emotion and personality, which is exactly what this role needed from her, and she kills it!
She plays a grieving widow who returns to the lakeside home her dead husband built for her. What starts as a heartbreaking tale of loss, quickly becomes a dark, thought-provoking mystery. An accidental piece of information flips into a mission to learn more of the details to her husband’s past. This uncovering creates an ominous atmosphere around her as she begins to experience things inside of this once loving home. All of which raises many appealing questions. Is she truly alone? Has her husband’s spirit returned to her? Has something much darker preyed on her emotional fragility? And this is when “The Night House” truly gets to play inside of the psychological horror genre in a fun way.
Where this movie excels is keeping the curiosity at high levels. As Hall’s character Beth uncovers evidence hinting to a darker past in her spouse’s life, you can unknowingly spiral into the mystery with her. You can feel the drive she has to learn more as each kernel of information takes the story’s path down more sinister and unnerving corners. The pace is relatively quick as well so you can easily escape into the mind of Beth to feel her torment, her fears, and her vulnerability as you get swept up with her and this engaging vibe to the film was a treat.
All of which was certainly aided by a tightly-written script. But even more so, it was a result of Hall’s commanding performance, who takes it well beyond the writing. She injects the character with an inner strength that can easily have you connected to her emotional energy. A huge bonus considering she consumes the bulk of the run-time on her own. And simply put, all the pieces of this movie really blend well to create a polished horror/thriller.
The story-line doesn’t try to do too much. It has its concept. The foundation to it was sound in the writing. And from there, the result is a movie that can deliver all the uneasy feels of a horror flick. With a great use of lighting and shadows. While also keeping your head in the game with a plot-progression that keeps you in the dark just enough to allow the mystery to unfold with genuine intrigue. So overall, definitely give this one a watch if you want something a little grim that can consume your attention and imagination.
Anthony J Digioia II - SilverScreen Analysis © All Rights Reserved