In The Night, an Iranian-American couple with a baby check into a hotel in Los Angeles only to experience an ever-escalating series of strange encounters that start off creepy and build to be life-threatening. It stars Cannes Best Actor winner Shahab Hosseini (A Separation, The Salesman) and Niousha Jafarian (Here and Now) as the couple who experience horrors from their past that come bubbling up to become physical manifestations stalking and haunting them.
Being trapped in a physical location and haunted by ghosts may be the oldest and most used structure in horror, but The Night brings a few fresh angles. Without getting into spoilers, all of the incidents that happen to the couple are rooted in character. In some sense, it is like the cave sequence in The Empire Strikes Back, where Luke faces an apparition of Vader. What you’re up against depends on what you’re bringing to the situation. As things escalate, we’re peeling back deeper and deeper layers of the characters until we get to the terror at the core of their being. By the end, we’re at Alex Garland levels of reality perversion via personal shortcomings.
“…an Iranian-American couple with a baby check into a hotel…only to experience an ever-escalating series of strange encounters…”
It is also interesting to have a mostly Farsi-language horror film shot and set in the US. Before the couple head to the hotel, they are at a party, and we get to see a little slice of life of Iranian expatriates living in LA. By the time they leave, they’ve had a bit too much to drink, their GPS is confused, and weird things keep happening to them, so they check into a hotel. They can’t get back home, and they are trapped in an unfamiliar place, haunted by their past. I’m sure that will resonate with immigrants from all over.
Remarkably, this is the first feature film from director Kourosh Ahari. He helped write the movie with Milad Jarmooz and helped to produce it as well. You’d never know it was his first movie. He keeps the plot moving and the tension rising while remaining solidly focused on character. Every department does a phenomenal job, from the acting to the cinematography to the sound editing, to the set design.
"…By the end we’re at Alex Garland levels of reality perversion via personal shortcoming"