Critic’s Pick: ‘The Night House’ Turns a Ghost Story Into Chic Grief Therapy – Rolling Stone

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There’s a subset of horror into which The Night House, at least at first glance, squarely and tidily fits: slow-creep tales of attractively well-off people facing appalling, uncanny forces in properties so chic-ly designed and plushly appointed — preferably with some natural body of water lapping nearby — it almost makes the psychological torment worth enduring.

That “almost” deserves particular emphasis in the case of David Bruckner’s elegant, skin-prickling maybe-ghost story, whose protagonist enters the proceedings in worse shape than most, though it takes us some time to find out exactly why. We first encounter young high school teacher Beth (Rebecca Hall) enveloped in a hazy cloud of others’ sympathy, the kind where people donate casseroles in lieu of knowing what to say. She barely speaks for the film’s first quarter-hour, though Hall’s impressive-expressive arsenal of plungingly wounded stares and febrile tics gives us some sense of what’s up. Only in an impromptu parent-teacher meeting, when Beth snaps at an overbearing, unsuspecting helicopter mom, does the truth emerge. After 14 years of marriage, with no previous warning of anything amiss, Beth’s architect husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit) recently blew his brains out while boating near their serenely modernist, timber-framed lake house in upstate New York.