Review: The Night House
The Night House is a bump-in-the-night supernatural film that rests upon the shoulders of Rebecca Hall. She grounds the film in real emotions that help to elevate things from just another jump-scare-laden haunted house film. Combined with the confident direction from David Bruckner and The Night House succeeds in both, being both moving and scary which is no small feat.
Hall plays Beth, a schoolteacher whose life comes crashing around her when husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit) kills himself out of nowhere. He leaves her a cryptic suicide note that doesn't help. Now alone in their big lake-side house, she begins to uncover things about her husband. He appears nightly, first naked and spectral, and then as something more sinister. The house they live in seems to be maze-like. Beth begins to find evidence that another house, built by her husband, may exist.
For a while, The Night House feels like it may be gaslighting Beth and us the audience. It is unclear what is real and what isn't often. Are these nightmares projections of her grief or real apparitions. Bruckner is particularly good at creating an unsettling atmosphere here, turning the mundane into something creepy.
For a good portion of the film, the mystery around Owen and the nightly scares create a compelling and frightening film. Things fall apart a bit in the third act. The explanation is murky and yet rather pedestrian if I am reading it correctly. The film often hints at darker things than it actually realizes. But what remains constant here is Hall. She is a major talent and her range and skill are on full display. The Night House is proof you don't need much to make a scary film, just great actors committed to the project.