‘The Night House’ Review: There is nothing to fear

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Jackson Piercy
CONTRIBUTOR

Beth (Rebecca Hall) in her completely normal house. Photo from imdb.com.

Content warning: suicide

I can’t really say that I heard a single peep about this movie outside of the trailers that play before other movies. There wasn’t any buzz — not that I was ever looking out for buzz, but really just another excuse to go to the movies. What else am I supposed to do on a Wednesday night? Going in, I wasn’t expecting more than something that was a bit creepy and a bit fun. Coming out, I can’t lie, I was shocked. It’s a shame this film didn’t get much buzz, because I wholeheartedly believe that this is one of the smartest horror movies to hit the screens in a very long time.

Beth (Rebecca Hall), a New York middle school teacher, is going through a bit of a rough patch. That’s because her husband, Owen (Evan Jonigkeit), just took their canoe out into the middle of the lake and shot himself. Why would he do that? His note wasn’t any help. “There is nothing” isn’t exactly the type of message someone would leave behind lightly. Beth is hearing bumps in the night that are more than typical. Her friends, specifically co-worker Claire (Sarah Goldberg) and neighbor Mel (Vondie Curtis-Hall) are starting to get worried about her seemingly erratic behavior. Beth has good reason to do so, however. She’s finding strange things when going through her late husband’s belongings. Books on witchcraft, pictures of women that look like her and most worryingly, a house across the lake that is an exact copy of Beth’s, just in reverse. Have you ever seen a face that isn’t meant to be there? They’re watching more closely than you think.

It probably wasn’t the greatest idea to watch this one in an empty movie theater.For most of this film, you’re alone with the main character, so every creak on any wall will make you jump if you have a similar constitution for horror movies. The biggest strength of this film, probably coming from its limited scope, is getting inside of your own head. Ten times out of ten, people are going to be much more afraid of what they can’t see than what they can, and this film captures that perfectly. The atmosphere here is so thick that you can cut it with a knife. I’m really quite surprised that the filmmakers could do so much with what seems like a minuscule budget. This picture puts you neck-deep in anticipation and keeps you there, which is exactly how I like my horror fare.

It’s also impossible to mention this film without the powerhouse performance by Rebecca Hall, who is basically carrying the movie on her shoulders. Without her, I doubt we get nearly as high quality of a film as we’ve received here. If you’re a junkie for the types of movies that make you scared of any possible sound that a house might make, then watch this one with the lights off just before you go to bed. If you’re more like me, then there’s no shame in keeping those lights on. However you do it, don’t do yourself the disservice of missing out on this creepy treat!

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