A recently widowed woman starts to believe her late husband is haunting her in The Night House. Beth (Rebecca Hall) is a schoolteacher with a history of depression, who is currently reeling from the very sudden and unexpected suicide of her husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit). Beth is supported in her grief by her friend Claire (Evan Jonigkeit) and neighbour Mel (Vondie Curtis-Hall), but as she spends nights alone at the couple's lakeside home, Beth becomes convinced that there is someone or something watching her a night. In addition, Beth finds a photo of an unknown woman (Stacy Martin) on Owen's phone, setting her on the path to discovering the dark secret life she never knew Owen had.
The Night House is a ghost story directed by David Bruckner (Southbound, The Ritual). When the story kicks off, Rebecca Hall's protagonist of Beth is still coming to terms with the death of her husband Owen, who unexpectedly boated out into the lake and shot himself. While going through Owen's personal belongings, she finds that she took photos of a woman she doesn't know. Even more disturbing is the discovery that Owen built a mirror-image of his and Beth's house and inside she finds a strange voodoo doll. However, as she digs deeper, Beth uncovers a shocking and dock secret.
Save for a sudden jump scare at one point, I have to admit that I never found The Night House to be a particularly scary film, though I do have to applaud how the film depicts the ghostly encounters, which includes glimpses of a silhouetted apparition blended into the scenery. This results in The Night House being a much more atmospheric film than being outright scary. However, the film also features some ghostly encounters that almost come off as slightly cheesy in execution.
In many ways, the ghostly activity of The Night House is secondary to the mystery of why Owen killed himself, leaving a cryptic suicide note that made reference to a near-death experience Beth had as a teenager. In her investigation, Beth finds confusing patterns on the floor plans of her house, as well as books about the Welsh mazes called Caerdroia. While the ultimate revelation about Owen's “shameful urges” does end up being a shocking one, the film seemingly shrugs off this revelation in favour of focusing more on the supernatural element of the film.
Overall, while The Night House does end up being an atmospheric ghost story with an impressive utilization of production design, the film still ultimately left me wanting more.