August 19, 2021

GENRE | Rebecca Hall Haunts 'The Night House' x Fantasia 2021

"Come back to me."
Rebecca Hall Sarah Goldberg David Bruckner | The Night House | Fantasia 2021
Fantasia International Film Festival
Rebecca Hall battles her demons as a recently widowed schoolteacher in director David Bruckner's psychological horror film about coping with loneliness. The Night House turns its grief-stricken protagonist into a device for depicting some truly frightening jump scares while teasing supernatural elements in line with the haunted house genre.

Hall's sleepless Beth is dealing with her loss in the spacious lakefront house she used to share with her architect husband (Evan Jonigkeit). Her grief and pain reflect or mirror unsettling and unexplained happenings around her isolated home.

Co-starring Sarah Goldberg and Stacy Martin, the minimal cast really plays off Hall well while allowing her to really sell both her anguish and despression. Beth is hearing voices and what are suggested to be ghosts related to her husband's sudden suicide, but it's unclear exactly how they're manifesting and what their exact connections are to her.

Rebecca Hall David Bruckner | The Night House | Fantasia International Film Festival 2021
Searchlight Pictures
Scripted by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, the film uses genre tropes and inventive turns to play with our sense of cinematic thrills. Their story also plays with dreams and visual dream logic while weaving in horror imagery in order to portray Beth's psychological turmoil visually on screen.

Hall firmly cements her scream queen status with such an affecting performance that's just as moving as it is eerie. The Night House uses grief and loss to visualize its thrills impressively. However, how the mystery is ultimately explained and the final act's hazy revelations don't come across as entirely satisfying, but Hall really sells it.

The Night House screened as part of the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival (Montreal).

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