The Night House

Released in 2021, this chilling story of trauma and grief leaves a creepy impact and showcases an exceptional performance from Rebecca Hall.

Beth is an English teacher who’s husband very recently committed suicide. She is traumatized not only by the suicide but by the feeling that she never really knew her husband. If he was hiding suicidal feelings what else was he hiding. She digs into his past and uncovers a web of horrific secrets and a maze of evil lurking all around her.

I don’t think this movie would work without Rebecca Hall. She gives Beth such a sharp edge belying a deep pain and insecurity. There’s a wonderful early scene in which a parent comes in to complain to Beth about her child’s final grade. Beth, who is dealing with the very recent death of her husband, responds with aggression and thinly veiled contempt. She shuts down this parent in the most satisfying manner. The way Rebecca hall handles this and all her scenes is masterful and wildly entertaining.

The movie works really well as an examination of grief and the response to suicide. That central question of how well do you know those you share your life with is built out into a wildly suspenseful narrative with horrifying implications.

There are several sequences here that I loved that blurred the lines between reality and dream so seamlessly that it is almost impossible to tell where waking ends and the nightmare begins. This is such an improvement over most films in which the dream sequence is so obviously telegraphed that you can almost set your watch to the inevitable jump scare.

These sequences can be disorienting and confusing. More than once I asked out loud, “what is going on?” But thinking about it after the fact it all adds up. It all makes sense and gives you something to ponder after the credits end. And there’s a lot to be said for a movie that sticks with you.

This movie is very creepy, but also deep. It is thoughtful as well as spooky and showcases a terrific actress. It’s totally my cup of tea. A-

Okay spoilers ahead. I’m just going to dive into spoiler territory and talk about everything that happens.

Beth’s husband left a suicide note that has confounded her. He said “Nothing is after you” she interprets this to be a nihilistic expression of depression. But it’s a warning.

When Beth was young she died during a car accident and was miraculously revived. She says she saw nothing on the other side. Ever since then Nothing has been hunting her trying to reclaim her for his own. She’s the one that got away. Nothing is the embodiment of that nihilistic despair that captured her husband.

In order to protect Beth he created a spiritual maze in their house to trap Nothing. Unfortunately as nothing begins to break free Beth gets caught up in that maze and begins experiencing the horrific nightmare visions we’ve witnessed.

One of the most stunning moments in the movie is when Beth finally confronts Nothing. She reaches out and touches him. The effects work here is incredible as Hall’s fingers depress against the face and body of Nothing. Her arms wrap convincingly around Nothing. Her finger tips flatten against him. His hands interact with her body and skin in a deeply unsettling scene that is technically spectacular as well as creepy as hell.

The movie is about overcoming despair and that existential nothingness and holding on to life. It’s a really cool concept and a really creepy execution.

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