David Bruckner’s The Night House is supposedly the movie that led David Goyer to choose him to direct Hulu’s Hellraiser reboot, which is really interesting because there’s little about that movie that would make him a good choice for that role.
Brucker is very methodical and measured in how he approaches his projects and typically there’s nary a drop of blood in sight, which doesn’t make him an ideal choice by my reckoning.
And The Night House is indeed methodically done, which is a good thing.
What isn’t so good is that the story is so subtle, perhaps too much so, about how it approaches the story of Beth (Rebecca Hall) a woman who’s husband committed suicide.
She’s caught off-guard by his death, and when investigating his belongings discovers that he was living a life – and building a house – that she was unaware of.
It’s an interesting premise and if the phenomena that Beth witnessed happened to anyone in reality it would be terrifying, though that’s the problem: It’s not reality, it’s a movie so such subtlety isn’t as effective.
And that’s a pity because Rebecca Hall is excellent (and the scene where she’s confronted by the mother of one of her students over a grade she gave is pretty powerful stuff) and reminds me a lot of Alex Essoe in Starry Eyes (2014); which is interesting because Hall resembles Essoe as well.
Eventually she comes upon her husband’s phone, and finds photos of women that resemble her and she assumes that he was having an affair.
If only it were that simple.
What’s particularly curious is that The Night House plays like a version or sequel to 1984’s The Neverending Story, more so than that movies’ actual sequel (which is to say that if you remember it you know more about the plot of Bruckner’s movie than you might think).
Hall carries the movie on her shoulders, and if the writers, Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski – who also wrote the screenplay for Hulu’s Hellraiser, based on a story by David Goyer, which explains a lot – had maybe evened out the load a bit (character actor Vondie Curtis-Hall turns up and does relatively little, which is a pity) then perhaps The Night House would have been a more memorable viewing experience than it ended up being.
Which isn’t to imply that it isn’t a good movie, because it is though it requires a lot of patience – what’s at the heart of it all isn’t revealed till about an hour and a half in – and anyone looking for something visually startling or gory are just out of luck.
Though if you like your horror very methodical, well-acted and subtle, you might consider spending some time at The Night House.