The Friday Night Horror Movie: The Night (2020)

the night

After spending a pleasant evening with their friends an Iranian couple and their baby daughter get lost in Los Angeles and decide to stop for the night in an old hotel.

Almost immediately strange things begin happening. They hear loud noises coming from the floor above them. There are knocks on the door but no one is there. The man (Shahab Hosseini) sees visions of his wife (Niousha Noor) and some other woman. The woman sees a vision of a young boy who cries out for his mother.

They call the police but they are no help. They decide to leave but find they are trapped. They knock on doors but no one answers. Will this night ever end?

First-time director Kourosh Ahari fills The Night with plenty of atmosphere and creepy tension. The camera placement and framing give it a claustrophobic feel and the lighting baths everything in shadow. The soundscape and score give everything an eerie, ethereal feel.

It pays homage to several other films, most notably Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, but he manages to make the film it’s own. It doesn’t break any new ground, especially with the plot details, and it runs a little long. It maintains what you might call a medium level of tension throughout but it never manages to really ratchet it up from there so that the ending feels a little like a letdown (though the final shot is a great one).

It is a co-production between Iran and the US and I appreciated its use of language. In the opening party, all of the characters are Iranian, except for one woman. Everyone speaks Farsi but the American periodically breaks into English and the other characters sometimes reply in English but usually slip back into Farsi. At the hotel, the couple speaks Farsi to each other, but outside of their room, they speak very good English to the Americans. As someone who has lived in various countries around the world, I appreciate when a film is realistic in the ways that non-native speakers code-switch their language depending on the situation.

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