The Night House (2020) Film Review

Beth has just lost her husband Owen to suicide. He took a boat out from the lakehouse they live in and shot himself with a gun that Beth didn’t know he owned. Beth is devastated by his death and spends her nights drinking and going through Owen’s belongings. She insists on continuing her regular job as a teacher and tries to seem stable and in control much to the concern of her friend Claire and neighbor Mel. An ominous suicide note left by Owen where he claimed that “There is nothing. Nothing is after you. You’re safe now.” Beth begins to suffer from strange supernatural events at night that she initially dismisses as dreams but slowly realizes they are real. – From IMDB

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I missed this one in the cinema, and have only just got around to checking it out now that it is streaming on Amazon. I am quite sad that I didn’t get the opportunity to watch this on a big screen, the atmosphere and creepiness would have been great in that kind of setting, but were still pretty effective on my smaller screen at home.

Rebecca Hall is the star of this whole show, I would 80 percent of the film is just her, acting against basically nothing. Not a lot of people could pull that off for an hour and forty minutes. But Rebecca Hall sure can. Her performance is excellent here, it can’t be easy to show the emotion and everything that she does, when the thing you are responding too is all going to be done in post production.

The filmmakers also do a great job of settling up a chilling and unsettling atmosphere, even though for the vast majority of the movie nothing scary really happens. There are a few jump scares thrown in to really ramp up the tension, but for the most part, the scares come from watching Rebecca Hall’s reactions to things, and the small things that you think you see out the corner of your eye, the same as Beth, our main character. You too spend the whole film wondering if what you are seeing is real, or just something that her confused, grieving mind is making up. And so you are engrossed the whole time until everything is explained.

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For me though, this explanation and ending is where the film fell apart. I had a dozen or more theories throughout the film, ranging from the mundane to the bonkers. But I never would have seen this ending coming. Which in a way I guess, makes it a great twist, but I just found it to be a little underwhelming and far too rushed. The clue to the twist at the end is mentioned in a throwaway comment during a conversation earlier in the film, but it is designed to go over your head. Now that I am thinking about it, I can see how heavy-handedly that element was shoe-horned in there, but at the time, I didn’t pay it much mind. In the end, the twist is literally explained out loud to us, in the closing fifteen minutes of the film, and we are left to surmise what we think it means. And while I did like the ending, I think some things needed more wrapping up.

They put a lot of time into showing the kind of books and things that Owen was reading, but no real time explaining it or why he was doing it. I loved the idea of tricking the entity to keep it away, but more time needed to be spent on that idea, and fleshing it out a bit.

A few good scares and great atmosphere, but ultimately the ending left me unsatisfied.

FINAL RATING: 3 Stars

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