REVIEW: THE NIGHT HOUSE (EIFF 2021)

David Bruckner (The Ritual, Southbound) returns with his latest horror infused thriller The Night House starring Rebecca Hall (Godzilla Vs Kong, Christine), Sarah Goldberg (The Dark Knight Rises) and Vondie Curtis-Hall (Broken Arrow, Die Hard 2).

Beth (Rebecca Hall) is a widow who returns from her late husband Owen’s wake to experience weird activities in her home prompting her to investigate the reason why he decided to take his own life. Beth embarks on a journey to find out Owen (Evan Jonigkeit)’s darkest secrets and solve the mystery of what really happened…

The Night House is a hard hitting horror film which explores the grieving process in a very delicate but effective way. Early on in the film we build strong empathy towards Beth as she struggles with the loss of her beloved husband and strives to find a reason to live. The fight to cope and adapt is portrayed extremely well and Rebecca Hall shines in a role which is very challenging. From the very start, the focus on Beth’s emotional torment is portrayed in a very realistic way and Rebecca Hall throws every part of her soul into the character. We are shown all aspects of her life and how Owen’s suicide has impacted her, from her work as a teacher to her friendship with her best friend Claire (Sarah Goldberg). The intricacies of her character are perfectly written and are superbly portrayed by Rebecca Hall.

The horror aspects add another layer to the powerful impact of the drama. Simply put, The Night House is an intense viewing experience which rarely gives you a moment to relax. Beth’s house is haunted and her character is constantly on-edge, the film manages to pass this experience to the viewer through a smart sequence of jump scares which will make your anxiety levels hit the roof. The Night House is nerve shredding and heart pounding. It has been a long time since I felt so uneasy and jumpy watching a film in the cinema. Well, The Night House is certainly a scary ride. Shadow silhouettes and wood creaking will haunt your nightmares for some time to come…

The plot is almost flawless until it falls into the same trap that left a noticeable dent in Hereditary (2017); spelling it out for the viewer. The mystery surrounding Owen’s suicide is excellently written for the most part with plenty of red herrings and sustained tension, however during a couple of key scenes we are literally told exactly what has happened in simple terms and it completely flattens the curves. The less we knew, the less we were shown, the better it was. It worked perfectly and continued to build up the complexities of the mystery, it is such a shame the film decided to simply its story in the final hurdle.

Despite some small cracks showing in the plot it couldn’t damage my enjoyment of this movie. The Night House is a fantastic dramatisation which left me in a nervous state causing my body to sweat uncontrollably and I loved the experience. It has been a very long time since I walked out a cinema feeling like I’d been battered for hours. The jump scares hit me harder than I was expecting and it was so much fun. The ending was really well done but could have been cut sooner and left in a more ambiguous way but you can’t take that away from the film as it was forgivable.

The Night House is an amazing film which is well worth every nerve shredding minute of your time. It hits hard and leaves you gasping for air afterwards. Horror should get under your skin, The Night House does this with ease.

Score: 5/5