They built a life together, they built a home together, quite literally, her husband Owen an architect who designed the house by the lake, its rooms and spaces, the winding wooden staircase down to the dock, and then one night he took the boat, rowed out across the water and with a gun she didn’t even know he owned, he shot himself.
Beth is devastated and she is angry, wanting neither pity nor sympathy so much as answers, filling the emptiness with drink, hearing noises at night when she can’t sleep, torturing herself by watching old home videos of happy times which held promises now broken, looking for patterns and finding them on Owen’s phone and laptop.
Photographs of women, many of them, all looking like Beth but not quite right, a procession of strangers with her hair and her build, and in his books the floorplans of their house and a second laid out as a mirror image with a figure caught in the middle as though in a maze; gazing out across the darkened Beth thinks she can see the lights of another house where none should be, the abyss staring back into her.
Directed by The Ritual’s David Bruckner from a script by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski, The Night House is a step up from that and his earlier contributions to the anthologies V/H/S and Southbound, a slow-burrowing adult film about adult themes of despair, suicide and trust, Beth facing her loss and her own mortality soberly despite her drinking.
Bone Tomahawk‘s Evan Jonigkeit only seen in flashback as the impossibly handsome Owen, his seeming perfection now tarnished, The Awakening‘s Rebecca Hall is the widow determined to investigate what others turn a blind eye, guided by a cryptic note and nightmares increasingly vivid and detailed while by day she explores the other side of the lake for clues.
Its UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Film Festival screened with a taped introduction by Hall who also serves as executive producer, The Night House is a superior horror film of atmosphere and intensity, the effects used sparingly in favour of Hall’s performance which is sympathetic, fragile and raw, warned by her friends not to fill the void with darkness but unable to step back, the architect of her own madness.