The Night (2020) IFC Films January 29th 2021
Directed By: Kourosh Ahari
Starring: Niousha Noor, Shahab Hosseini
Disclaimer: IFC has provided me with a digital copy of this film free of charge for the purposes of review. All opinions contained within are my own honest reflections.
What's so interesting about this film is it very much plays with the haunted hotel clichés such as: loud banging at the door with seemingly nobody behind it, a very creepy hotel manager, old eerie music playing and, we even get a roaming black cat for good measure. But, as much as the filmmakers are leaning on troupes they are also wonderfully subverting them as. The movie isn't about a haunted hotel as much as its a couple haunted. Haunted by what secrets they keep from one another. Indeed, as pretentious as it sounds, being trapped in the hotel is very much a kin to being trapped in a loveless, tense filled marriage. The movie also smartly plays up how isolating it must be to be Iranian living in the US. Indeed, there is a moment that they fear they are being targeted by harassment and, when they seek the aid of the police they are only mocked. I also want to express how fantastic the leads Niousha Noor and Shahab Hosseini are.
I will say as brilliant as the film is its not without its flaws. The action starts to feel very repetitive and serves to slow down the tension and momentum that was crafted in the first act. Also, whilst I am perfectly fine with not getting answers to everything the movie presents, it's still frustrating when certain aspects of the plot that is seemingly important are glossed over or in some cases are only half explored or not at all. Of course, it's hard to go into specifics without going into full spoilers. I was also disappointed when the film did the loud noise in place of a jump-scare at one point. Overall, I think I was able to like the movie despite this because the movie kept me in this constant tense, off-balanced state. This is only the second film from director Kourosh Ahari yet, it feels like a film helmed by someone with decades of features under his belt. A chilling, unnerving exploration told through a cultural lens that we rarely get in horror. It's not going to be for everybody but, if you are willing to go on this journey, it's well worth it.