The Night House

Where I Watched It: HBo MAX

English Audio Description Provided By Deluxe

Narrated By: Tanzi Alexander

Among the A24 communities online where fans of the distributor talk about cinema, but mostly just back and forth about A24 films, there’s a term used for films that could be mistaken for A24. it’s debatable what this means, but the term “It’s got A24 vibes” means that, basically, it’s artistic as fuck.

What worked most against this film was that a lot of people had hyped this up. I saw some critics I respect on YouTube refer to this film as terrifying, and with the new Hellraiser sharing a director, it just felt like time.

I really don’t know what to tell you. Is it scary? Well, maybe? It has this habit of not scaring you, but instead just making you wait, like at any moment something could scream in your face. Rebecca Hall plays a widow who lives in the titular house, or near it anyway, depending on your interpretation. She is very much grieving her husband’s sudden death, she lives in the middle of nowhere, and strange occurrences start happening. Sounds. Shapes lurking in the darkness. is it him? Is it her husband?

Most of the film she spends going through a confusing amount of “am I losing my mind” as random things seem to happen. in one scene, she’s pretty damn sure she can see her husband standing on the lake, and in another, a bunch of women run right past her and jump off a cliff. So, the night House gets its vibes from being as randomly creepy as possible, but scary? not really.

The biggest jump scare in the entire film for me was unearned, and just served to signify the passage of time. Literally, she falls asleep, and wakes up and time has shifted, and we’ve decided it needs the loudest noise possible to accompany it. Was the noise tied to anything? No. It was just a fake out jump scare.

What is creepy is what hall’s character starts to uncover when faced with figuring out soe stuff about her husband. Weird wooden totems. We’re told basically nothing at the beginning, there’s no exposition, and there are almost no characters of real significance in the film aside from Rebecca Hall. Sarah Goldberg (Barry) plays a friend, who has a few scenes, and she’s arguably the second largest amount of screentime. Hall is in almost every frame, and has to carry this film. So, if anything works, it’s because of her.

In the final act, Hall starts to find the unnerving answers she really didn’t want, and that’s when the film starts to get weird. Still, scary is a bit of a stretch. I love Tanzi Alexander to death, but the audio description here often shies away from describing anything in detail that could be gory or scary. There are a few moments where there’s a shape lurking in the door, and we area told we can see it’s eyes, but… is that it? Just total blackness with some eyes?

Later, she’s attacked by sort of a description less apparition. I believe the word used was entity. Lots of things are entities, and that did nothing to let me know if I should be scared. Like, if I could see, does this entity have some horrifying face? Who knows.

There is some pay off here, as through the confusion and lack of backstory, we do eventually come around to an answer that is independently horrifying. But, considering how much hype this film had, I just felt let down. Manage your expectations, and you might find you like this more than me.

Final Grade: C+

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