Following up on his 2018 wilderness terror film “The Ritual,” director David Bruckner’s hyper-focused, unnervingly sure follow-up “The Night House” is an eerie experience from start to finish.
‘The Night House’ Review
Rebecca Hall plays Beth, a New York schoolteacher whose 14-year-old husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit) has recently committed suicide. Hall owns every scene she’s in. Beth is now lost in the contemporary lakeside home Owen designed and built, swilling brandy and tormented by the truth of Owen’s demise. She reveals to her closest friend (Sarah Goldberg) and coworkers that the only gloom in their marriage was hers, the result of a horrible incident she had years earlier.
There are a number of puzzling hints hidden among Owen’s belongings. A disturbing suicide note, architectural blueprints that appear to invert the layout of their house, and images of unknown women on his phone, all of whom resembled Beth, were among the strange discoveries. Her evenings are plagued by horrifying images and sounds, and ominous shadows hang over her. When a nice neighbour (Vondie Curtis-Hall) attempts to help, it’s evident that he can only see the bloody footsteps from the rowboat that are leading to the house.
These terrible events are explained by the film’s natural explanations (Extreme grief?). Nightmares? Is there something wrong with me? — As Elisha Christian transforms the home’s reflected surfaces into shape-shifting jigsaw pieces, Bruckner keeps a grip on the film’s mood.
However, Hall’s performance in a role that demands her to contort in disconcerting ways makes up for the lack of audacity in the climax. She is fantastic. Hall portrays a lady whose panic and desire have merged as her skin undulates and her throat arches frighteningly backward.
The House at the End of the Night
R-rated for gore, blood, and creepy crawlies. One hour and 48 minutes. The film is now showing in cinemas.