The Night Movie Review
Written by Joanna K. Neilson
Released by Vertigo Releasing
Directed by Kourosh Ahari
Written by Kourosh Ahari and Milad Jarmooz
2020, 105 minutes, Not Yet Rated
Grimmfest Screening on 1st April 2021
An Iranian couple and their cute baby find themselves stranded in a strange LA hotel, with no way out, during a scary night that doesn’t seem to end. So far, so creepy. This confident, engaging horror treads a fine line between over-familiar haunted house spookiness and a malevolent force that may or may not be coming from their own minds – or maybe it’s something to do with those weird matching tattoos they got yesterday?
Once the couple end up at the Hotel Normandie, the creepy children, oddball cops, and very weird concierges start to raise alarm bells. But are there really racist troublemakers out there, harassing the couple? Nobody wants to believe there’s anything supernatural happening to THEM, after all. However, just enough information about the threat is held back to keep things intriguing, even as the dark truth gradually emerges from the shadows.
Of course, it’s not hard to speculate what’s really going on at the sinister Hotel Normandie, and one visitor even spells out the solution to their torment - if only the couple can survive long enough to work it out for themselves. While the midpoint gets a little repetitive, and you’ll feel like clapping loudly when a character finally understands the rules of the game, there’s still a great deal to recommend about The Night.
This is an effective, menacing hotel horror, with enough tweaks to an expected formula to make it well worth a look. Even before any horror starts, the husband and wife are a believably tense couple who don’t quite understand one another, while their baby is simply adorable – you’ll hopefully want her to be protected at all costs…
While a few overfamiliar beats might infuriate some, this chiller delivers extremely effective moments of terror. It knows just how to use the suffocating, old-fashioned glamour of the hotel, which houses so many sinister characters, and it’s all sumptuously filmed. The Hotel Normandie can proudly count itself among The Overlook and The Yankee Pedlar Inn (The Innkeepers) as another vacation location to stay far, far away from.
Even the couple react logically, for the most part, or behave consistently with their established personalities. While rational thought would certainly kill off a few horror movies, this at least bothers to suggest psychological and practical reasons for their occasionally dreadful judgement and inability to leave. While you certainly could play a cynical ‘spooky cliche drinking game’ if you wanted to, there’s plenty of good stuff to appreciate here – and it might even make you cover your eyes once or twice.
Oh, and kudos to them for making cute little black cats scary again. Still, much like Ti West’s best movies, The Night is at its very finest when nothing at all is happening... yet. And that's just the way we like it.
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