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Review: The Night – “Some dark and satisfying reveals”

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Released on digital platforms on the 2nd of April, The Night is a USA/Iran co-production directed by Kourosh Ahari (Generations), written by Ahari and Milad Jarmooz (Dark Heritage) and stars Shahab Hosseini (The Salesman) and Niousha Noor (Oh Snap! I’m Trapped in the House with a Crazy Lunatic Serial Killer!).

Married couple Babak (Hosseini) and Neda (Noor) Nuderi leave a party at a friends house but run into trouble on the drive home. With a baby on board, the two decide that the best thing to do is tap out and check into a hotel for the night. 

The Hotel Normandie looks fairly standard but as the night wears on the Nuderi’s discover it is anything but. A ghost boy plays knock and run at their door, there’s a lot of banging around upstairs and worn down by the spectral shenanigans the two will spill the big juicy secrets they’ve been hiding from each other.

If only the setup in the film were so succinct. Getting them to the hotel takes twenty minutes and features a filler-feeling pre-title sequence at their friend’s house where absolutely zero happens. That Babak and Neda don’t get on and that Babak has a toothache would have taken two lines of dialogue in the car. Then getting checked in, woken up a few times and cheesed off by the banging around above enough to call the cops(!) takes a further seriously patience-thinning sixty minutes.

It is a dull and dreary setup with no hook and no suspense. The Night is shot in an “actually” haunted hotel in LA, but you cannot tell or “feel” it. Unlike the recent Netflix show The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel where the bad vibes of the place literally leaked out of the screen, The Night feels like it could be taking place anywhere and most likely on a personality-free soundstage someplace.

Babak and Neda are really unlikeable characters who make mystifying decisions and are constantly nagging at each other, but here are some good turns from the supporting cast though. George Maguire (13 Reasons Why) is suitably spooky as a creepy concierge and Michael Graham (Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood) is enjoyably untrustworthy as a suspicious-seeming policeman who turns up too quickly, knows a little too much and is waaay too interested in little baby Shadnam.

Once all the dominoes have been set out and the first few have eventually fallen, The Night has a really enjoyable last third where it finally fully leans into its premise and delivers what has been waited for. There are some dark and satisfying reveals, the spooks get to actually be scary after all and there are some fulfilling callbacks and gnarly twists that will leave you stunned – but wondering why the preceding eighty minutes had to be so lifeless. “Slow burn” can and should still be suspenseful and interesting, else it is just a slow slog.

The Night is released on digital platforms on the 2nd of April.

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