‘The Night House’ Is A Ghost Story That Continues To Haunt Long After The Credits Roll – Review
The Night House is a story that centers around perhaps one of the scariest things anyone can ever experience: grief.
It follows the recently widowed Beth (Rebecca Hall) struggling to mourn her late husband, Owen, and deal with her responsibilities to her job, friends, and herself. When a strange haunting in her home interrupts this already daunting process, it causes her to erratically find out more about Owen’s past.
As it is with a lot of scary movies, The Night House is a bit misleading. Where its trailer promised shock and horror, the movie delivered something different but still quite good. It delivered a well-crafted, mysterious ghost story that manages to keep an audience of 21st-century horror fans entertained. This is not an easy feat.
For starters, director David Bruckner (The Ritual, V/H/S) and cinematographer Elisha Christian work tremendously well together to use the settings of each scene to their advantage. Where most scary movies these days use a camera and setting placement for jump scares, The Night House uses this technique to emphasize an eerie emptiness that could only be created by the loss of a loved one.
Everything in the titular house was designed for two people. So when we see Beth scrunched up on one side of the bed and the other side is perfectly made, or when we see her sit on the end of the couch and leave just enough room for one more person, it’s pretty impactful, to say the least. To add to that, the lines of these otherwise empty spaces often create the outline of a silhouette, reaffirming that despite her husband’s death, Beth is not alone in the house. This unsettling feeling of another presence drives the story, especially when it’s coupled with the mystery surrounding her husband’s death.
There’s more to this story than just absence and lingering hauntings though. The film delicately unravels disturbing hint after hint. We never see Owen alive, but in good faith and Beth’s point of view, we assume he was a kind and loving husband However, as the story progresses and the red flags turn redder, we’re forced to imagine him as so much more than what the characters ever wanted him to be.
Rebecca Hall (Christine) plays Beth very well, effortlessly shifting from a mourning widow to an impatient victim that just wants to find out what the hauntings mean. Sarah Goldberg (Barry) and Vondie Curtis-Hall (Marvel’s Daredevil) both shine in their own right as their characters steadily support Beth through this all and offer their opinions on what it all means.
In the end, the mystery is solved, but—very much like the grieving process—there’s no closure. The hauntings are clear, and we know what they mean, but what are we going to do about it? Even when the answer is more than likely staring us right in the face, it’s not enough. Because that can’t be it. There has to be more to it, this needs to be addressed, and that needs to be explored. But we don’t get that; nobody does.
Death has a way of making both atheists and believers question everything when there’s nothing there except the end. The Night House embodies this perfectly.