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Hall reviews "The Night House"
the night house

This week on "Justin Hall At The Movies," I'll be reviewing Rebecca Hall as she lives in a home with dark secrets in "The Night House."

The Night House is a psychological horror thriller that could've easily fallen into the trappings of its genre, but instead it takes a more cerebral approach with its plot and it has an earnest, committed performance from Rebecca Hall at its center to help elevate the material beyond the typical haunted house fare.

Hall stars as Beth, a teacher suffering from depression after husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit) commits suicide.

While going through his belongings, she discovers an old note left by him telling her there's nothing to be afraid of, but then strange occurrences take place in the house that make her question her sanity and whether or not her husband is really gone.

She happens to come across a picture a woman on his phone and Beth immediately suspects that Owen had an affair which causes his subsequent suicide. This just continues to increase Beth's paranoia, even when her coworkers/friend (Sarah Goldberg) and her neighbor (Vondie Curtis-Hall) try to help keep her calm.

There aren't too many scary sequences until it reaches the climax, but it contains a scene where just as Beth is about to fall asleep, she's woken up by a supernatural force that elicits a genuine scare. It's swift and efficient due to its pacing and also because it feels central to the story.

The Night House is a bizarre horror movie that throws in several bat crap crazy moments that do feel authentic and the house itself is especially convincing and evocative of much more than the genre allows. It doesn't have ghosts or demons waiting to pop out at every turn, but instead, it works on our subconscious as we try to put the pieces of the puzzle together along with Hall.

Speaking of Hall, I mentioned that her performance is the main driving force that carries it throughout and that's because decides not to play the character as a clueless victim, but rather a woman who is confused by the surrounding events and despite her going off the deep end, she remains determined till the climax. Her performance is nuanced and she helps bring something beyond what we would expect in a screenplay of this sort.

The Night House might be a little too thoughtful for those wanting scares piled on scares, but it does take a unique approach that can be appreciated.

Grade: B+

(Rated R for some violence/disturbing images, and language including some sexual references.)

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