Kourosh Ahari’s The Night is a throwback of a horror that allows for its ample tension to build, coupled with a great script and two fantastic performances, this is a film that never lets you settle. By adding small touches to his film with influences from Kubrick and Hitchcock Ahari allows the entire piece to become something more than expected.
After a night out with friends, an exhausted married couple, Babak (Shahab Hosseini), Neda (Niousha Noor) and their baby, take shelter in the grand but eerie Hotel Normandie. Throughout a seemingly endless night, mysterious disturbances ruin their night’s rest as Babak and Neda soon realize they’re locked-in with a malevolent force that hungers for the dark secrets they’ve kept from one another.
Ahari has no intention of reinventing the wheel here with The Night and, in fact, uses a lot of well-trodden moments from other horror films set in a spooky place. While that may be a bit disappointing to some, it should be noted that when Ahari does uses these scares, he does them very well, right down to the perfectly timed sharp strings to bring that scare. By giving the audience scares that (on some occasions) we can see coming. He still manages to get us to jump or react appropriately. This is down to a vast number of things. Firstly how good our two leads are.
Hosseini and Noor are exceptional here as the haunted, sleep-deprived parents of their newborn. Both have secrets from the other, and they are steadfast in making sure the other never learns of it and as the night progresses. Seeing these two characters break down with their resolve to keep a hold of their secrets wavering at every turn is fantastic. The two become increasingly paranoid, and as the night goes on, the daggers are out for the other as the tiredness overcomes their minds.
What strikes most about The Night is how much it is like older mystery horrors. This is a film that positively creeps you out to make you feel as uncomfortable as possible. We feel the fear these two parents have for themselves, but most importantly, their newborn baby, so with every noise that creeks along, every banging of the door, the tension rises. As said, we see all of the old haunted mansion/hotel tropes and not only does it well, can find its own rightful place in the genre.
By making itself a more emotional piece, The Night can stand out from the crowd. Usually, our characters are written as paper-thin as possible. The threat is what carries the picture. Thanks to some great work from Ahari and Milad Jarmooz, we have two fully fleshed characters taking relatable issues. As the film progresses, one of those issues is genuinely heartbreaking. By using the hotel as a proxy for this couple to expose their truths, the film gives itself far more room to breathe and, by the end, credits a true sense of heaviness surrounds you.
The little touches brought in to itch at the audiences skin work so well, be it the dripping of the bathroom tap or the sounds from outside the door. By never letting the audience settle, we are constantly, like our two leads, on edge. Ahari gives everyone a form of sound torture with his sensory deprivation and is firmly placed in their shoes. It is very clever work from the sound team, and it stays with you afterwards. You will be hoping for a very silent home when you go to sleep after viewing the film.
Ahari’s direction showcases the talent of cherrypicking the right moments of a genre and utilizing them to his strengths. He has created a chillingly eerie atmosphere, and the sense of dread never leaves the film. For a first feature, it is quite striking and adds to the growing number of Iranian filmmakers that we should be looking out for.
The Night is a throwback to horror that shows that sometimes the simplest of techniques coupled with fantastic performances are all you need. Taking ideas from other films and giving them their own little twist.
THE NIGHT WILL BE RELEASED ON DIGITAL PLATFORMS 2ND APRIL.
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