REVIEW: Poor ending negates potential of ‘Night House’

There are some movies where the execution of an ending can be so integral that it can make or break the feature.

That’s the case with “The Night House,” and not in a good way.

Rebecca Hall plays Beth in this thriller, a high school teacher who recently lost her husband to suicide. Beth is trying to move on from the tragedy, but she continues to reside at the home her husband, Owen (Evan Jonigkeit), built on the lake, which leaves her with constant reminders.

Those reminders begin to manifest as visions for Beth, who begins to see frightening things related to her late husband in the midnight hours. Because of what she sees in the night, she begins looking into whether her husband had a secret life or not.

While “The Night House” is a horror, the film is most effective when it gets into its dramatic elements. Watching Beth begin to learn more about Owen’s activities that she wasn’t aware of and confront her grief end up being by far the most striking moments of the picture.

That’s not to downplay the effectiveness of the creepy moments. The film does in fact build a frightening atmosphere for the audience in many of its scenes.

However, its real strength remains the inner turmoil Beth is going through. Both from her dealing with loss and the revelation that she didn’t know everything her husband was doing.

For its first two thirds, “The Night House” wasn’t appearing to be the next horror great, but it was certainly a competent genre entry. Then, the ending happens, and a great wave of disappointment washes over the experience.

NightHouseBLog
Courtesy Searchlight Pictures

The ending won’t be spoiled in this review. However, what’s revealed is exceptionally frustrating and pulls a viewer right out of what was an above average cinematic experience.

The conclusion of this feature feels cheap and lazy. The movie had built up enough fright and was working as a psychological thriller, and then it crumbles because of the direction writers Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski took.

It’s an absolute shame, too, because Hall truly is phenomenal in this film. She throws everything she’s got into this role and it really shows.

Her portrayals of grief, fear, shock and anger are thoroughly convincing from start to finish. This is undoubtedly Hall’s best performance since 2016’s “Christine,” which she received massive praise for.

As a horror movie, “The Night House does in fact set a creepy atmosphere, too. A few jumpscares are featured but it never feels like they are overused and the whole feature feels unsettling.

However, there are also many moments that simply feel too slow for the kind of pace a thriller should have. Plus, the way the ending hits the movie as a whole cannot be ignored.

Catching this on TV or through a stream when it gets a digital release is recommendable, only because of Hall’s performance and some intrigue with the film’s earlier moments. The movie unfortunately has a lot working against it, though, in key areas. 2.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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