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Fantasia Festival Review: ‘The Night House’ is a Haunting Look at Grief as Seen Through a Supernatural Lens

August 20, 2021Ben MK

No matter how well you think you know someone, can you ever be fully certain that they're being genuine? In The Night House, that's exactly what a schoolteacher named Beth (Rebecca Hall) begins to wonder, after her husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit) dies and leaves her with the house he built, as well as the haunting question of whether the man she loved was who she thought he was.

With little more than Owen's cryptic suicide note and his sketchbook — full of architectural drawings and even more cryptic scribblings — Beth begins to dig deeper into her husband's secret life, uncovering evidence of what would appear to be trysts with other women who look suspiciously like her. The mystery takes a bizarre turn one night, however, when Beth spots a house directly across the lake from her own — one that she never noticed before. Guided by the light coming from the house's windows, she takes the small rowboat docked by the water's edge and makes her way towards it. But when she finally reaches the shore, she's greeted by an even more confounding sight — a partially finished mirror image of her own home. Just what was Owen building, and why was he building it? And could her neighbor Mel (Vondie Curtis-Hall) know something that he isn't telling her?

Adding to The Night House's eerie atmosphere and overhanging sense of dread are the ghostly visions that Beth experiences throughout the film. Could Owen be attempting to communicate with her from beyond the grave, or could it be something more sinister? Unflinching viewers will be able to spot the clues director David Bruckner leaves along the way. The question is, will Beth realize what's really going on before it's too late?

The Night House makes its Canadian premiere at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 48 min.

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