Thursday, January 28, 2021

Terror In a hotel without check-out


    The most frightening things often go unseen. Considering that, it always surprises me that most horror films focus on the visible impact of one form of mayhem or another.
   Night, a film about an Iranian couple living in Los Angeles, takes a different approach. Although we hear threatening sounds and see eerie sights, the movie relies heavily on the potent power of suggestion.
    Born and raised in Tehran and now living in Los Angeles, director Kourosh Ahari introduces us to several affluent Iranian couples living the good life in LA. 
     Initially, The Night looks as if it's going to be a well-observed movie in which the problems of these couples slowly emerge.
     But Ahari quickly switches gears. One couple (Shahab Hosseini and Niousha Noor) leave the party. He's had a bit too much to drink. She says they ought to return to the party and sleep at the host's house. He refuses but eventually agrees to suspend a wobbly drive so that they can spend the night at a hotel: husband, wife, and their infant daughter.
      It won't surprise you to learn that the hotel's receptionist (George Maguire) is creepy -- in a dry way that might not mean anything or might mean a lot. 
      The hotel seems to be empty of other guests. Strange noises begin to go ... you'll pardon the expression ... bump in the night.
     As it turns out, both Hosseini's Babak and Noor's Neda have kept secrets from each other. Gradually emerging secrets create a no-exit dynamic: The couple can't move on unless they accept truths about themselves. They can't leave the hotel.
    The Night is haunting, even if it  suffers a bit from a problem that's endemic to all such movies: The buildup isn't quite matched by the finale -- although, in this case, it's not for lack of trying.
     Still, Ahari proves himself a master of dread and threat and Night follows a Farsi-speaking couple into a night in which their  defenses begin to unravel.

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