The Night House review: A haunted-house horror with cosmic secrets

We grieve a loss together, however we grieve alone. A scary movie where misery and anxiety are hazards as powerful as any boogeyman, The Night Home opens at the point where grieving ends and grieving starts, enjoying as Beth (Rebecca Hall), a teacher in upstate New york city, returns from the funeral service of her spouse Owen (Evan Jonigkeit). A worried good friend strolls her to the door, informs Beth to call her anytime, hands her a casserole, then leaves without joining her within. As the sun sets over the neighboring lake, Beth stops briefly, discards the casserole in the garbage, then awaits night to come.

It might not be getting here alone. Beth discovers her nights are made uneasy by more than simply the loss of her spouse. Odd sounds wake her from sleep. What seem bloody footprints mark the dock leading up to the back entrance. One night, tones of Individual Consumer, she gets texts from Owen, however when she gets up, the texts have actually disappeared. It’s all very uncomfortable. More uncomfortable: Beth begins getting up far from her bed, with no memory of having actually moved from one location to another.

Composed by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski (the group behind the unforgettable 2017 movie Super Dark Times) and directed by David Bruckner (part of the team accountable for The Signal and V/H/S), The Night Home is all at once a haunted-house story and a secret. One striking early scene exposes the information of Owen’s death by means of a tense discussion in between Beth and a trainee’s moms and dad who’s attempting to push Beth towards offering her kid a greater grade, since after all, Beth was missing on the date she’d set up a makeup job. Beth responds with unmasked hostility, informing the moms and dad that she was not available then since that was the day her spouse rowed out to the middle of the lake and shot himself. And, no, she doesn’t understand why.

Rebecca Hall in The Night House, looks up in horror

Image: Searchlight Pictures

As the movie advances, Beth begins to piece the story behind the suicide together, however each brand-new information just deepens the secret. Owen was a designer who created their home, however why do the plans include other prepare for a comparable home? Why did their friendly widowed next-door neighbor Mel (Vondie Curtis-Hall) not inform Beth he often saw Owen strolling the woods during the night, a minimum of when with another lady? Why does their library include books on the occult? And who’s that lady in the picture on Owen’s phone, with her head turned away from the cam? She might nearly pass for Beth, if Beth didn’t understand much better.

As the hints install, Bruckner administers terrifies in installing strength, a design template for haunted-house motion pictures dating a minimum of back to 1944’s The Unwanted. It’s masterfully carried out enough to make The Night Home worth a search technical benefit alone, turning every corner of an elegant lake home into a website of deep fear. However what’s unforgettable is the movie’s interest in checking out concepts much deeper than how frightening it may be to be suddenly alone and apparently surrounded by sinister specters. The title has a literal meaning within the movie, one better left unspoiled, but it also suggests the loneliness of Beth’s newly empty home and the shadows that threaten to envelop her, shadows that may be formidable threats even without the questions raised by Owen’s shocking death.

Owen, Beth confesses to her friends, was their marriage’s optimist. She was the one prone to spiraling darkness. What is she supposed to do now? But while her friends care about her, they also grow uncomfortable and impatient the more she talks about her loss. They offer bromides, dismiss her concerns, and steer her away from probing into Owen’s death. This kind of loss makes it hard to know what to do, what advice to offer, and all of it rings hollow to Beth’s ears anyway. Her nighttime visitors, however, have no trouble making themselves heard.

Rebecca Hall in The Night House, seen in the dark through a series of windows, from outside her house

Photo: Searchlight Pictures

Hall plays Beth as a difficult woman who doesn’t always invite sympathy, even in her hour of need. Her grief takes the form of anger and suspicion. She behaves in ways that push other people away. Even her best friend Claire (Sarah Goldberg) isn’t sure what to do, beyond remaining present and listening. The film weaves a study of what it means to discover you’ve built your life over an abyss into the fabric of a multiplex-friendly horror movie, but it wouldn’t work without Hall’s deft, complex performance. She plays Beth as a woman shocked by her loss, but the real horror lies in the way the secrets she unearths seem to encourage her most self-destructive tendencies. When everything that gives her life significance disappears, it starts to look like confirmation that it all might be meaningless. Maybe it’s time to pour another brandy and let the darkness in.

A tension enters The Night House’s home stretch as the demands of the genre start to eat away at the ambiguity — at least up to a point. The movie fully reveals what Owen was up to prior to his death, however what accompanies that revelation, particularly its connection to Beth’s past, can be read a couple of different ways, and the film smartly refuses to tell viewers what to think. Though the final moments are sure to frustrate viewers uncomfortable with unanswered concerns, the grayness suits the subject. Sometimes it isn’t just the houses that are haunted, the people within their walls are too. Some ghosts can’t easily be pushed out or explained away. Some of them, we have to live with.

The Night Home debuts in theaters on August 20.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.