Friday, June 17, 2022

#2,770. The Night House (2020) - 2021 Horror Movies


It was such an innovative, new take on the haunted house horror that I just knew that I had to be part of it”. This was director David Bruckner’s first reaction after reading the script for 2020’s The Night House. Written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, Bruckner said he “fell in love” with that script, and after seeing the movie it’s easy to see why. Along with spinning an intriguing, inherently eerie mystery, The Night House is as clever as they come.

School teacher Beth (Rebecca Hall) is searching for answers, specifically why her husband of 14 years, Owen (Evan Jongkeit), recently took his own life. Convinced they were happy together, Beth has a hard time accepting Owen’s death, and the more she delves into this tragedy, the more she realizes he may have been leading a double life.

Owen, who built the beautiful lake house they called home, even went so far as to construct a similar house in the middle of the woods. Why did Owen go to all that trouble, and what did he mean with the final line of his suicide note, when he told Beth she was now “safe”?

The manner in which The Night House pieces this puzzle together is easily it’s biggest strength, with Rebecca Hall delivering one hell of a performance as the grieving widow who won’t stop asking questions until she uncovers the truth. Each evening, Beth experiences what appears to be waking nightmares, which grow in intensity from one night to the next (occasionally she even sees Owen himself, as if reaching out to her from beyond the grave). Bruckner does a masterful job building the tension with each successive dream sequence, and it isn’t long before we’re dreading the sundown, and what new terrors await Beth once darkness descends (in an interesting contrast, Beth herself seems to embrace that darkness, seeing it as another chance to understand why Owen did what he did).

In addition, The Night House features a number of clever jump scares, the most effective of which involves a home stereo system, all the while offering up clues to help Beth (and we the audience) piece together a mystery that only gets darker with each new reveal.

As ingenious as it is creepy, The Night House is one of the smartest movies, horror or otherwise, that I’ve seen in years.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10

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