‘The Night House’: Not Your Average Haunted House Scary Movie

Photo: ‘The Night House’

‘The Night House’ – Horror 101

When reading the description for this film it follows the basic structure of any scary movie. After the recent death of her husband, Beth begins to experience some paranormal activity in the house he built on the lake. As she deals with her grief and mourning, her husband’s secrets begin to slowly unveil, making her believe she may have never known him. It’s safe to say that these are not completely original ideas, but what is done with them makes it so effective. The haunted house trope has been done and revamped at least twenty times a year.

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The niche of paranormal horror films will always have an audience. ‘The Night House’ fits that niche, but also offers something more substantial than just jump scares. The lack of respect for horror films has been a common denominator for the ignorance of critics and award shows. It wasn’t until recently with directors like Ari Aster and Edgar Wright are releasing horror films with rich stories that are gaining mass attention from audiences.

Director David Bruckner is able to bring to the table a good horror film that still maintains the expectation of having a physical reaction to the screen while simultaneously getting involved in the story and building a relationship with the protagonist.

Strong Story

Horror films aren’t known for having the strongest plot lines, usually focusing on the thrills and scare factors. ‘The Night House’ clearly chooses the story first and the scares organically fit the premise. Comedies also fit the category when some films decide to build the story around the jokes rather than the other way around. It creates a fakeness and lack of compassion towards the characters. Yes, it will make the audience get scared or laugh at the joke, but it won’t stick in their heads because they don’t care for the actual story. In this film, the story is in the foreground which makes the scares much more intense.


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After the death of Beth’s husband, she is alone and struggling with grief. Slight paranormal things begin to happen, but it could be a sign from him. When the main character doesn’t know whether or not to be scared it also puts the audience in the same headspace. Is it a sign from her husband? Or is it something demonic and evil? With most of the paranormal happenings occurring at night, daylight is a safe place. Like most horror films when the sun shines through it is a sign of safety, but also can be a sign that it’s now boring. ‘The Night House’ is able to have gripping day scenes that keep the viewer hooked to the storyline enhancing the fear for when the sunsets.

Relationship with Lead

Having a strong relationship with the lead of any film is crucial. Whether or not a person likes the character, they have to at least have a feeling for them. Horror films aren’t necessarily known for having a strong memorable lead. It is only films like ‘Halloween’ with Laurie played by Jamie Lee Curtis and ‘Scream’ with Sidney Prescott played by Neve Campbell that we root for them and learn about their lives. Beth is portrayed by Rebecca Hall, who has been in a wide variety of films such as ‘The Prestige’, ‘Iron Man 3’, and ‘Christine’. Her performance was incredible in this film, believing her grief and mourning were completely authentic.

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Acting, in general, is a difficult thing, but acting in a horror film is on a different level. Pretending to see things that aren’t really there can be silly which is why horror films can come off as cheesy. Hall was able to fully embrace her character’s insanity and fear of what the night brings her. There was one scene in the film that was a remarkable performance of how one can deal with grief. Beth is a teacher and when a student’s parent comes in to discuss his grades there was a tense moment of Beth telling the parent how her husband passed. It was heart-wrenching and uncomfortable to view, but Hall was able to fully commit to the reality of the character’s loss.

More Than Jump Scares

Jump scares are always the most fun thing about watching a scary movie. Whether it’s by yourself or with a group of friends the loud bangs or frightening cuts are hard to expect and give you a rush. ‘The Night House’ offers a handful of thrilling feelings, but also does something more. Throughout the film, there are transitions that completely screw with the perception of time creating an uneasy feeling with the protagonist and with the viewer. The phrase “seeing is believing” is not necessarily fact in this film which makes it a fun experience. When a film can offer more than the feeling of being scared and can give the feeling of anxiety or angst after leaving the theater, it means it did what it was supposed to do.

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WRAP UP

‘The Night House’ directed by David Bruckner and starring Rebecca Hall is a must-see in theaters. There’s nothing like viewing a horror film in a theater where the speakers are just right for the scares to rattle your spine. This strong film offers more than just the thrills and is overall a good story that will stay with you for the long run. This is a definite watch and one of the better horror films being released this summer of 2021!

Where to Watch:

‘The Night House’ is in theaters nationwide.

Catch David Bruckner’s upcoming film ‘Hellraiser’ which is a remake of a 1987 classic and is set to be released in 2022.

Also, check out Rebecca Hall in her latest film ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’.

By Jack Colin

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