What’s the last haunted house movie you’ve seen? Well, The Night House is another one of those although it seems oddly refreshing and authentic. The reason for that is Rebecca Hall’s stellar and very emotional performance. She would be such a good goth girl. There are also a few other things, but she’s the main element of this solid and quite creepy horror. I mean, they know how to set up that ominous and suspenseful atmosphere, I’ll give them that. You know the one where everything is quiet and you hear the floorboards creaking and the shivers run down your spine. Apart from that, there will be a lot of mystery and prolonged shots.
As a psychological horror, The Night House doesn’t feature gore or anything like that. It’s counting on its creepy atmosphere to make up for that. We will be following Beth as she’s trying to deal with the death of her husband. The loss of a loved one is an incredibly difficult thing to overcome and this is where Rebecca Hall shines. She’s showing us a huge range of emotions with honesty and vulnerability only the greats have. It made the slower pace and lack of any real action much more bearable. Gothika and What Lies Beneath did a much better job at keeping the viewer engaged. At least we didn’t get another What Lies Below although that movie was unintentionally hilarious as shit.
We find Beth in the middle of another drinking session. Her choice of poison is brandy as she falls asleep in a drunken stupor. We soon find out why she’s like this, her husband died recently and she’s trying to cope with that fact. Living alone in a huge house on the lake isn’t helping the process. However, when she starts hearing strange noises in the house, things will get even worse.
Never really deciding whether it wants to be a full-blooded horror movie or a melodramatic mystery, The Night House remains in this limbo ’till the end. However, I would say that it’s leaning towards the latter, especially with that relatively weak finale. When you add to that the fact that our homeboy Owen is naked for most of the movie, you start putting two and two together. I’m already seeing all the housewives drinking wine and saying how they wouldn’t mind playing a little game with him. Just noticing what the producers were trying to do, no need to get all righteous now. Something I find quite surprising considering that the directors David Bruckner’s last movie The Ritual was so good. You can also check out our Rabbit Reviews selection of Occult Movies.
This goes hand in hand with a couple of strange decisions that our lead character makes. And sure, you could all chalk it up to stress or whatever but it just seems like lazy writing. I was especially disappointed with the ending that feels like it didn’t resolve anything. Or am I just too dumb to “get it”? I mean, I could come up with a couple of explanations if I really wanted to but none of them fit the narrative well. So, just don’t expect wonders from The Night House and you should be fine. It’s got enough creepy atmosphere to keep you engaged and I would love to hear what you think about the ending. If you’re looking for something similar I recommend you check out The House of the Devil and The Hidden Face.
Finally, I couldn’t leave without commenting on that disturbing doll. I found it at the same time fascinating and incredibly unnerving. It looks so fucked up that I had to look it up. And yes, the inscription in the book Beth was reading is right, this is a model based on the infamous “Louvre Doll”. The effigy depicts a female body with limbs bound behind her back and her body pierced with thirteen needles. The evil that men do… Made out of terracotta, it was found in Egypt along with a folded led tablet. This is where things get even more fucked up. That tablet contains a magic binding spell. Here’s the Greek translation of that spell in its entirety:
Lead Ptolemais, whom Aias bore, the daughter of Horigenes, to me. Prevent her from eating and drinking until she comes to me, Sarapammon, whom Area bore, and do not allow her to have experience with another man, except me alone. Drag her by her hair, by her guts, until she does not stand aloof from me … and until I hold her obedient for the whole time of my life, loving me, desiring me, and telling me what she is thinking.
Inscription on the Egyptian “Voodoo” Doll, circa 3rd-4th Century AD
Director: David Bruckner
Writers: Ben Collins, Luke Piotrowski
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Evan Jonigkeit, Stacy Martin, David Abeles
Fun Facts: Similar to another Rebecca Hall’s movie, The Awakening.