‘The Night House’ Review: Rebecca Hall Gets Haunted in a Scary, Cluttered Horror Pic [Sundance 2020]

/Film | 1/25/2020 | Chris Evangelista
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Jump scares get a bad rap, primarily because filmmakers use them in cheap ways. The worst kind of jump scare – the kind that deserves scorn – are of the fake-out variety. As in: someone opens a closet door and a cat jumps out, or a completely harmless person suddenly pops into frame and the soundtrack blares for a second. These types of jump scares can hit the bricks. But there are good jump scares. These are the ones designed to startle and shake you with genuinely scary moments, not faux distractions. David Bruckner‘s The Night House is full of several of these genuine jump scares – and boy oh boy are they effective.

Rebecca Hall is the lead of The Night House, and thank heavens for that. Hall is one of the best actresses working right now, and she’s able to make some of the sillier elements of Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski‘s cluttered script seem mostly plausible. Hall plays Beth, a teacher who has recently lost her husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit), a successful architect. Even though their marriage seemed perfectly happy, and the often depressed Beth always thought of Owen as her rock, her spouse died by suicide, and the experience has left Beth understandably unmoored.

Beth - Nights - Lake - House - Owen

Beth spends most nights drunkenly stumbling around the beautiful lake house Owen built for them, unable to reconcile why her husband would shoot himself. Her grief becomes compounded by a sudden belief that she’s not alone in the house. Beth is a skeptic in life after death – she was once in a car crash that left her technically dead for four minutes before being revived, and the experience has left her certain that there’s nothing awaiting us on the other side. But creepy stuff keeps happening: the radio randomly turns on at...
(Excerpt) Read more at: /Film
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