The cinematography by Maz Makhani is a particular highlight of The Night. The whole film was shot at night because there were windows everywhere, and they wanted that haunting up-in-the-middle-of-the-night moonlit look. He also uses camera movement and shadows to unsettle you.
A pet peeve of mine about most horror movies is that the whole plot would come unraveled if the characters would just leave the haunted place or call someone for help. This often causes the characters to behave in stupid ways. Not so with The Night. At first, the characters stay because each thinks the other is going crazy, and neither is capable of driving. But once they are resolved to leave or call for help, their plans are frustrated in clever ways.
I’ve loved Shahab Hosseini in everything I’ve seen him in, and The Night is no exception. He’s on edge throughout the movie from a combination of an incident at work, a toothache, and having had too much to drink. On top of that, he’s facing a crying baby, a wife who’s upset with him, repetitive sounds that keep him from sleeping, and personal demons. Still, Hosseini plays him with a kind of sweaty, desperate restraint that keeps us invested, even as he starts to reach his breaking point.
“I love the idea that two countries nearly at war…can come together over an imagined horror…”
The one area where the film could be improved is the pacing. It takes a while to get to the scary stuff, and once we get there, it can be repetitious. The cut I saw was 111 minutes. At 90, it would have been perfect. The version I saw was said to be a work in progress, but there’s still time perfect it before release.
The Night is going to be shown in Iran soon, and the producers are working on a deal for American distribution. I love the idea that two countries, nearly at war with each other, can come together over an imagined horror instead of being torn apart by a real one. Even though the cast and crew are mostly Iranian-Americans, the story they are telling is universal. I hope you can see it soon — it is classic horror, but with some fun twists, made by some big-hearted people and real pros.
The Night had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
"…By the end we’re at Alex Garland levels of reality perversion via personal shortcoming"