The Night House (2020) a (spooky) belated review

Many, many years ago and after two films, I became a huge fan of director James Cameron. The two films? The Terminator and Aliens.

When news came out that his next film would feature underwater action/intrigue, I was so there, looking forward to an Aliens-esq action film but set deep underwater.

When the movie came out, I recall one TV critic, now forgotten, who said that watching this new James Cameron directed film, The Abyss, was like watching a runner in a competition having the run of their lives. They’re in first place, far ahead of everyone, and then, just feet away from the finish line, they stumble and fall on their face.

I don’t think I need to draw a picture here with regard to the intriguing, eerie, but ultimately disappointing -at least with respect to its conclusion- Rebecca Hall starring The Night House.

Rebecca Hall is, for the most part, the whole show here, and she’s damn good playing Beth, a woman who, we find in the movie’s opening minutes, has lost her husband and is returning from his funeral. There are others in the movie, of course, but she is front and center through the film and there’s nothing to fault in her performance.

Beth lives in a beautiful lake house her husband built and, it becomes very clear, his death was a shock… especially once we find out it was by suicide.

I don’t want to offer too many SPOILERS from this point on, but suffice to say Beth’s questions regarding her husband’s suicide start to eat away at her. She has visions, perhaps spectral in nature, and wonders if her husband is trying to communicate with her.

The film, during the first two acts, is simply terrific and had me wondering where it was going, just as Beth was investigating her late husband’s last moments leading to his death.

But that ending…

For a film that presented itself in such a sure footed way, it sadly got silly by its ending and, again because I don’t want to get into SPOILERS, I don’t want to give it all away. Suffice to say after plenty of fascinating psychological intrigue and questions about what’s real and what isn’t, things get a little too concrete in the finale and this makes things far less interesting versus maintaining an eerie and unexplained vibe.

I have ideas as to where the story should have gone, but I suppose that’s the nature of my thought process, and it felt like this was a script that needed a little more work, if only in that ending.

So I’m put into a weird predicament. For some 2/3rds of the film, The Night House is terrific, gripping, suspenseful, and intriguing.

I loved what I was seeing.

But that last 1/3rd of the film really let me down and its a tough call to recommend the film based on this alone.

I suppose I would still recommend the film. Perhaps others may not find the ending quite as problematic as I did. Just beware you may find yourself let down in the end.