The Night House
The Night House (2021) movie review
The Night House is a new horror/thriller starring Rebecca Hall as a woman who, while dealing with her husband’s recent suicide, begins to learn dark secrets about him and the house that they live in… The film opens this weekend and, while I don’t know much of the work the director and writers have done prior, based on this, I look forward to seeing more from them. The film has received positive reviews so far, but to be honest I have no idea how well this film will perform this weekend at the box office.
Should you go see The Night House? Simple answer? Yes. Longer answer being: If you don’t like horror movies, obviously this one isn’t for you. It may look ‘more thriller than horror,’ and while it isn’t your average gore fest of horror, it is definitely a horror film. Also if your idea of good horror is just a ton of violence and jump-scares, this isn’t that. The Night House is in the same vein as the 2014 Australian film The Babadook. If you haven’t seen that film, it is quite something. I highly recommend it. But also yeah, go see The Night House!
Knowing that one of the key elements of this film’s enjoyment is not knowing where the film is headed, discussing the plot itself is a delicate task. Overall, the film’s story is compelling, not only because of the mystery it holds, but the way that mystery unfolds to the audience. While the end result is probably not as intriguing as it could have been, the film’s plot ends up serving the strong themes quite well.
At it’s core, The Night House feels like a film dealing with suicide how the loss of a loved one so suddenly can affect someone. This empty feeling that Rebecca Hall brilliantly portrays takes her protagonist down the rabbit hole, as her inability to deal with the issue begins her search for answers in the first place. I think the way the themes set up the film that in turn gives a heavy payoff to the themes couldn’t have been handled better. (This is also why I compare the film to The Babadook, as both take a character drama and add something more to turn it into a compelling horror narrative.)
Of course being a horror film, The Night House is not all tears and acting. The careful pacing and attention to detail will have you constantly on guard, while the creative visuals and haunting cinematography keep you searching every frame for clues. There is also a brilliant attention to sound that this film uses more than most horror films I would argue, one of which completely breaks tradition as one of the best scares in the film. And yeah, while it’s not packed with jumpscares or constant tension building, both are done well throughout the film.
While there are a few moments that don’t really work when you try to stick reasoning to it, the real standout in this film is the incredible performance from Hall. Right off the bat she is given the job of the character drama and a horror/thriller blended together. And boy does she work for this film. Essentially, the entire first act is to put the audience in the protagonist’s mindset, while the second act takes you down the path of dark discovery leading- well I don’t want to say what exactly. Sufficed to say the emotional range on display is wide, but Rebecca Hall manages to capture every beat.
So while there are films that have captured the thematic drama told through a horror story better, it doesn’t make The Night House any worse. Thanks to the sharp visuals, solid pacing, smart sound mixing, and of course, awesome lead performance, The Night House walks the line between bizarre thriller and thematic horror quite well. Again, if all you want from your horror films is a bunch of screaming people who all die except one, hey that’s okay. Honestly go check out the Fear Street films on Netflix! But if you are up for a more contemplative horror that still doesn’t disappoint in the scare factor, go see The Night House! (Plus I’m sure it’s the best film opening this weekend.) 7/10.
So The Night House? Did you see it? What did you think? And what is your favorite horror film that tells a character story like this? I know that’s pretty specific, but there are actually quite a few when you really think about it! I mean Alien (1979) really boils down to a character learning to stand up for herself. Anyway leave a like and a comment below and let us know! And you know what else you could comment? What you want us to talk about next? Should we also talk about the other two opening movies? We’ll never know if you don’t let us know…
-review by Ryan Prince