The Night House

Viewed – 13 November 2021 Disney+

After a woman’s husband commits suicide under mysterious circumstances, she finds herself experiencing strange visions and creepy goings on during the night in the lakeside house where they lived together.

A fairly typical premise granted, but with effective atmosphere and a few genuine chills along the way. Rebecca Hall stars as Beth and is convincing as a woman struck by grief who begins to uncover a secret life linked to her husband. As the movie progressed it began to develop from standard haunted house fair to something more disturbing and I began to think – this was getting interesting. However a final act seemed to disregard much of what gets suggested in dreams and visions, instead choosing not to give the viewer any real answers.

Hall is very good however and the concept was an interesting take on a cliched setup. I just wished it had delved further into the more creepier ideas that may or may not have been real. I guess the director wanted to leave it ambiguous, but all I was left with was disappointment and frustration.

Verdict: Poor

The Gift

Viewed – 13 August 2015  Cinema

Jason Bateman for as long as he’s been around, has never really been the sort of actor that guarantees bums on seats.  He’s been known for TV sitcoms like Arrested Development and a wealth of comedy movies such as Horrible Bosses.  Yet I’ve always liked him and always look forward to seeing him in stuff.  This latest thriller has him as a successful business man who has recently moved into a nice up-market neighbourhood with his beautiful wife (Rebecca Hall).  The perfect little life, until that is an old school friend bumps into him one day and gradually starts muscling his way into their lives.  Gordo (Joel Edgerton) seems nice, normal if a little awkward and pushy, but mostly harmless – or is he?

the gift 2

Classic psychological thriller territory for sure, think The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Single White Female etc. and you’ll get the idea.  However this has a stand out performance from Bateman, who shows a depth and complexity to his character I wasn’t expecting.  Also Edgerton as Gordo (who also directs) is perfectly strange and mysterious and possibly psychotic – but balances the uncertainty well.  The GiftThe movie mostly focuses however on Hall’s character who is vulnerable and troubled, with a past hinting at something that went wrong (possibly a miscarriage) between the couple and how the new home is a new start.  I enjoyed this as it played with genre conventions, threw in a few excellent jump-scares and kept me guessing.

It’s fairly safe in it’s concept and certainly could have elaborated more on things with the odd flash back, as I came away still asking questions about these characters.  There was also potential for the story to go to much darker depths.  But these are small gripes and overall The Gift was a gripping and well written thriller that surprised and entertained in equal measure.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

The Awakening

Viewed – 26 April 2012  DVD

In the wake of World War I the world is gripped in the mourning of loved ones.  A hoax investigator plagued by her own demons, is called to an elite boarding school where sightings of a child ghost have the occupants fearing for their lives.  The simply gorgeous Rebecca Hall, hot off playing hostage to Ben Afflek’s bank robber in The Town is Florence Cathcart, a published writer and self-confessed skeptic who sets out to disprove claims that the boarding school is haunted, using her knowledge of science and a collection of gadgets.  But will her non-believer attitude finally be put to the test?

Now first of all this was familiar territory.  Picturesque but creepy old-England countryside and big stately homes dripping in foreboding atmosphere.  It reminded me of two movies, firstly Daniel Radcliff break-out The Woman In Black, then Spanish shocker The Orphanage … both quality heritage to borrow from (and their like) in my opinion.  With a credible, complex turn from Hall who really should be a bigger name than she is, as well as good support from Imelda Staunton and Dominic West, this had some decent scares, a cleverly written storyline, and a setting that certainly sent a few chills my way.

Directed effectively by Nick Murphy (TV’s Primeval) in his feature debut, this may wear its clichés like a coat of arms (do we really need another key hole meets scary face moment?), suffer from a few dodgy effects shots and could have been even scarier, but once I’d realised this was more a supernatural drama that an all out horror movie … I began to appreciate the acting, good ideas, twists and turns … making this well worth checking out.

Verdict:  3.5 /5

The Town

Viewed – 19 July 2011  Blu-ray

Actor Ben Affleck has never really been an actor I’ve ever rushed to see the next film of. Although dependable, and with a more than credible c.v. of quality movies behind him, he’s the sort of star that goes in, does the job, goes home – but rarely leaves his mark.  Having recently moved into directing with Gone Baby Gone and more recently this heist thriller – he’s definitely trying to make a bigger name for himself.  The question remains, does he succeed?

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