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Movie Review: The Night House

There’s nothing there.

I know.

A conversation between a man who doesn’t deal with depression and a woman who does and knows the man doesn’t understand what he can’t see. Those two lines also happen to be the last lines in The Night House. It is a metaphor for depression and grief first and a horror movie second.

Beth (played astoundingly well by Rebecca Hall) just lost her husband to suicide. Alone for the first time in the house he built for her, she drinks her way through her grief. Soon, she starts hearing noises and feels a presence in the house.

When Beth was young, she nearly died. Four minutes without breathing. Instead of a white light and glimpses of an afterlife, she saw nothing. An emptiness that would nearly consume her if it weren’t for her husband. The nothing was depression.

The nothing takes hold of her after his death. As she packs away his belongings, she finds things she doesn’t understand. Photos of other women. Designs of their house, only reversed. That very house that she didn’t even know he built, unfinished in the woods. A backwards replica of their own.

I won’t give away too much, because the film deserves to unfold on its own. It’s done quite well, and though there are a couple well done jump scares, it’s the visual that really brings it together. Tricks of the camera that fool the eye. Cinematography that deserves to be noticed.

Rebecca Hall is what truly sells it. There is a vulnerable bitterness to her performance that really carries the story. An honest depiction of depression. It’s invisible to those around you which just compounds your loneliness. Makes you feel as though what you are going through isn’t real. That it’s nothing.

If you go into this film understanding that you are getting a haunted house film overshadowed by depression and grief, then it won’t disappoint you as a horror film. As the horror goes, it’s okay. But as a study in mental illness, it succeeds with a lot of heart (Mainly Rebecca Hall’s).

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