The Night

They just wanted somewhere to spend the night, Babak and Neda Naderi, he overtired, in pain from toothache and probably over the limit following a late evening at the home of their friends for dinner and drinks yet unwilling to turn the car over to his wife who is without her licence even though it is the right thing to do and he is lost, the satellite navigation taking them in circles in downtown Los Angeles rather than home.

A frustrated compromise to avoid further argument, Babak accedes to Neda’s suggestion that they find the nearest hotel, the grand lobby of the Hotel Normandie quiet after dark with only the concierge to greet them although he assures him that they are almost full with only one suite available, room 414, though that will allow their infant daughter Shabnam her own space to sleep soundly in her carry cot.

Neda already homesick for Iran, the disorientation and dislocation of another strange place and the tension between her and Babak lead her withdraw immediately to bed, interrupted only by a child in the corridor outside, leaving Babak alone in the night when he hears the banging on the door when there is nobody there, the footsteps directly above when they are on the top floor, the endless dripping of the tap, not water but blood…

Directed by Kourosh Ahari from a script co-written with Milad Jarmooz, from the disorienting glide of the title sequence as the camera tracks the car along the city streets The Night plays with the familiar and the twists it, the supposed safety of shelter, warm, clean and comfortable inhabited by the ghosts of the past, the décor blandly tasteful yet every corner harbouring shadows which grow as the clock crawls ever so slowly towards dawn.

George Maguire the creepy concierge whose uncomfortable historical anecdotes would earn him a job as the Overlook Hotel’s resident historian, Shahab Hosseini and Niousha Moore are Babak and Neda, carrying no luggage as they were not expecting to stay the night other than their burden of unspoken guilt and shame which echoes in the empty hallways and is reflected back at them from the mirrors.

A nightmare of dream logic and winding corridors which lead nowhere, when The Night runs out of invention an hour in it flounders somewhat but the sense of unease is as inescapable as the establishment itself, and while like a rotten night of insomnia the pacing is slow it largely avoids the clichéd jump scares of the genre, making the few which do manifest all the more effective.

The Night will be released on digital platforms on Friday 2nd April



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