Disturbing Twist Ruins ‘The Night’

by Jonah Desneux on January 29, 2021

in Print Reviews,Reviews

[Rating: Rock Fist Way Down]

In select theaters, virtual cinemas, and VOD January 29.

Kourosh Ahari’s newest feature The Night stabs its audience in the back in a way that I have never seen before.

Ahari’s Iranian-American horror drama starts strong, with a dreary yet mesmerizing style and intensity that has the power to keep audiences on the edge of their seats without relying on the use of jump scares. The Night shows great promise in its first act as Shahab Hosseini and Niousha Noor give fantastic performances as a husband and wife, trapped in a nightmarish hotel while dealing with their relationship and personal issues.

With shades of The Shining, The Night had the opportunity to hit great heights in the horror genre, however, the direction the film takes in the last forty minutes makes you feel as if you had gotten betrayed by a close friend.

Usually, horror is known for its raw effect of having audiences yell at the screen pleading for fictional characters they’ve come to care for to “NOT GO IN THERE.” The Night established a similar but far more damning effect for me, as the inevitable direction creeps in and leaving me to shout “DO NOT GO THERE” as the sharp script takes an unforgivable turn into an offensive direction.

The engaging horror suddenly turns into a morality play, while commenting on how past decisions can haunt the mind. The male director decides to touch on a personal female issue without the grounds to comment on it. Without completely giving the disastrous plot twist away, I’ll just say that it is discovered that the female protagonist is being haunted and punished for an individual choice involving her body – and the way it is presented is horrific. 

The Night centers around Babak and Neda, a complicated couple with an infant child. Babak does not like the way that Neda nags him and Neda is completely reasonable for a majority of the film, so the dynamic that each partner has their issues is inherently flawed from the get-go. During a game night with friends, Neda asks her husband not to drink considering they have to drive home and they have their baby with them. In response, Babak gets very very drunk and refuses to stay the night with their friends or let Neda drive them home. During the stressful drive-back, Babak hits something in the middle of the road and realizes he is too drunk to drive. The couple pulls over to stay at the seemingly normal hotel and thus the nightmarish hell begins. Quickly haunted by the ghosts of the hotel and their past, Babak and Neda fight to survive the night, needing to share their secret “sins” for the daylight to come.

The premise of the film works great for the first half. Before it is discovered that the characters must go down the cliched road of sharing secrets and learning lessons, the film thrives in its disorder and disorienting effects. When the mystery is unknown, The Night is full of genuine creeps as the characters maneuver through their tainted relationship with one another and their maze-like personal prison.

The acting between the pair is exceptional and the only highlight that holds strong while the rest of the film drives off a cliff. Once the secrets are revealed the film becomes draining in its preachy nature and predictable plot lines. Worse than being preachy, the film becomes flat-out offensive. I thoroughly enjoyed the first hour and was hooked to find out the answers in the next. Instead, my excitement swiftly turned to anger as the film I was captivated by out of nowhere becomes a sloppy statement for a cruel message.

Jonah Desneux

Jonah Desneux is a recent graduate from the University of Missouri with a BA in Film Studies. It’s baffling that someone who just spent four years writing film paper after film paper would immediately want to write some more, but hey, he must love it! Along with writing about film Jonah enjoys writing and performing sketch comedy in Columbia and Kansas City.

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