The Night House Review Mourning Becomes Her

David Bruckner’s “The Night House” is the hyper-focused, unsettlingly sure follow-up to his 2018 forest frightener, “The Ritual,” and the shocks fall like blows and the eeriness is persistent.

Rebecca Hall gives a command performance as Beth, a New York City teacher grieving the suicide of her husband of 14 years, Owen (Evan Jonigkeit). Drinking brandy and tormented by the unanswered questions surrounding Owen’s death, Beth now rummages about the contemporary home he built on the shore of the lake.

They had a happy marriage except for her, she tells her best friend (Sarah Goldberg) and coworkers; she blames a traumatic experience from her childhood for her gloomy outlook. Strange hints begin to materialize from Owen’s possessions.

The Night House Review Mourning Becomes Her

There’s a disturbing suicide note, sketches that seem to invert the arrangement of their home, and photos of women that look eerily like Beth on his phone. She has been having nightmares with terrifying images and sounds, and she keeps waking up to the presence of vague, menacing shadows.

A kind Samaritan (Vondie Curtis-Hall) tries to help, but it’s evident he doesn’t notice the couple’s bloody tracks leading away from their rowboat and into their yard.

The Mystery at the Heart of The Night House is Both Fascinating and Upsetting

Since The Night House is a film that is best experienced without going in with any preconceived notions or knowledge of the film’s major beats or expectations for any given moment, the bare bones plot description you just read was done on purpose.

The film’s initial emotional shock occurs in the first 20 minutes and is just the first of many to come from the story’s numerous bleak undertones. But I won’t do the picture any favors by saying how or if it actually deals with the supernatural, there is a great, dark creative spark in its approach that is genuinely frightening and stays with you long after the lights go up in the theater.

The film’s premise—Beth uncovering a new side of her deceased husband’s life—isn’t particularly complex, but the film’s momentum is incredible thanks to the layers of tale it presents.

The Night House Digs at Some Deep Universal Fears and is Wonderfully Effective

David Bruckner’s directorial and outstanding aesthetic is a perfect match for the content, which is why the scares are so effective. Cinematographer Elisha Christian creates a haunting mood by highlighting the isolation of Beth’s home, and the editing and sound design work together in magical and terrifying ways to produce genuine shocks to the system.

It took me a few minutes to calm down after one segment since it was so intense. It never resorts to cheap jump scares, instead opting to immerse you in a state of heightened tension before pushing you hard; horror fans are in for a treat.

What’s the Twist The Night House Review Mourning Becomes Her?

To start, Beth’s deceased husband is revealed to be a serial killer. Yet the truly bizarre part is that it’s not all his fault. When Beth’s husband’s ghost doesn’t appear to her, she realizes that it’s not his spirit that’s haunting her; rather, it’s death.

During the beginning of the film, she says that when she was a teenager, she was in a car accident and was clinically dead for several minutes. After being brought back to life, she concluded there must be nothing beyond death because she had never felt either joy or sorrow.

In the final act of the film, she learns that the emptiness she experienced is real and it wants her back. As it explains to her, “I’ve been with you ever since.” The suicide note written by Owen, which said, in part, “There is nothing.

The Shel Silverstein-esque pun, “Nothing is after you,” backfired spectacularly: “Nothing” is after her. As a result, the ghost that haunts her frequently takes the form of voids.


Beth (Rebecca Hall), a teacher, is introduced to us in the opening scene as a devastated widow who has no idea why her husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit) took their boat out from the lake house he constructed and shot himself with a rifle she didn’t even know he owned. Despite her best efforts, Beth’s calm is shattered by spectral interference.

This proves without a reasonable doubt that Owen is reaching out to her from the afterlife. Beth will soon be rummaging through Owen’s belongings in an effort to learn more about his background and establish a deeper rapport with the ghosts. But the truth she discovers is just as stunning as it is unsettling.