The Night (2021) is a Nightmare That Won’t Wake
Title: The Night
First Non-Festival Release: January 29, 2021 (Limited Theatrical Release)
Director: Kourosh Ahari
Writer: Kourosh Ahari, Milad Jarmooz
Runtime: 105 Minutes
Starring: Shahab Hosseini, Niousha Noor, Leah Oganyan
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Babak (Shahab Hosseini) and Neda (Niousha Noor) are on their way home from a get-together at a friend’s place when they experience car trouble. The GPS is wonky, distractions pop out of nowhere, and the couple begins to suspect that they have to call it a night. Babak has had a little too much to drink and Neda is unable to drive after being cited for driving without a license, so the couple opt to take their infant daughter to a nearby hotel for the night. Once inside, they will find that this place of rest won’t let them rest until they have confronted their deepest secrets.
Psychological horror film The Night is a quiet and contemplative supernatural mystery that offers plenty of chills and twists.
It takes a while to find its footing, but once it does The Night becomes an engaging mystery, diving into the uncomfortable reality of secrets we cannot escape. Plenty of red herrings are peppered into the story to cast doubt on what is exactly going on, which keeps the film in a nicely ambiguous state for most of its runtime. In the same spirit, there are so many “WTF” moments that do not get explained. Normally this would bother me, but The Night operates on a sort of dream or nightmare logic, so it is passable in my eyes.
Which leads to its central concept: the sin of secrets. In The Night, it’s clear that the Naderi family are destined to arrive at the hotel and face their demons. Here they are at their most vulnerable: tired, away from home, slightly inebriated from the get-together. It’s a perfect storm for everything to go down, and it does. The hotel acts a catalyst for the duo to confess their deepest sins to each other in hopes that it will save them from the hell the have stumbled into. An idea that goes further when you consider the strain the secrets have put on their marriage. Closure is inches away and The Night forgoes a traditional resolution in favor of something more ambiguous, which is its calling card at this point.
The leads do a great job of selling their confusion, paranoia, and desperation. Shahab Hosseini takes the lead as the world around Babak grows stranger by the minute causing his mind plays tricks on him in the quiet night of the barren hotel. Mundane moments like heating up a bottle of milk or talking to the receptionist become surprisingly sinister when subjected to the warping of reality. Niousha Noor exudes exhaustion as Neda tries to keep it together while she believes her husband is experiencing a psychotic break of some kind. It’s a shame that the supporting cast do not deliver in the same way, but thankfully most of the runtime is devoted just to the Naderi clan.
A dark and brooding slow-burn effort, The Night is mature and subdued horror for those wanting something more contemplative than shocking. Wavy and disquieting shots amplify the dreamlike state of the film allowing the hotel to bend reality to further ensnare its victims. Visions make Babak, and by extension the audience, question what is going on and what he can trust. Is this all the culmination of an alcohol induced fever dream or is it real?
It won’t win any awards, but The Night is a competently made film that is driven by both atmosphere and character development. While it does get bogged down by its languid pace and twisty plot, it provides plenty of eerie visuals to make up for it. If you are looking for a well-crafted indie horror venture, look no further. There’s no way out of watching The Night since its streaming on Hulu right now. Go check it out!
Overall Score? 6/10