Psychological horror, those that play with mind’s eye, is one of the most difficult to execute, but at the same time, one of the most revered ways of filmmaking. The feature-debut for Director Kourosh Ahari’s The Night makes an excellent addition to those in the same realm as Us (2019), Session 9 (2001), and Identity (2003).
Crafting a different film altogether; Ahari brilliantly contructs a hotel-themed horror film that tingles with variances of previously mentioned films, whilst also conveying a very unique and original scare that will sure to have thriller and horror fans talking. Passionately made with hopes of facisnating audiences with a focus on Farsi culture, Kourosh Ahari brilliantly utilizes subtitles to ease from the excellent visual storytelling on display, as well as incredible cinematography by Maz Makhani.
Following a night-out with wife Neda (Niousha Jafarian) and infant daughter Shabnab, Babak Nadari (Shahab Hosseini) decides to pull into a hotel after realizing an ache in his tooth, combined with alcohol from dinner, had been too much for him to handle, and that his stubbornness had caused his wife and child to become distressed. Upon arriving at the nearest spot, The Hotel Normandie, Babak and Neda are briefly harassed by a homeless man speaking gibberish (or what they misinterpret as), before being allowed in by an excitable, yet socially questionable receptionist (George Maguire). Once the couple and their child reach their rooms odd sounds, and loud banging have them scratching their heads ast to what is wrong. Upon further investigation, they realize that something bizarre is taking place and are soon not only fighting for their sanity, but for themselves.
The Night draws on quite a few thematic elements during it’s 100-minute runtime, such as the integration of Iranian-American lifestyles, marriage, and the extent and power of the Farsi language on these characters. While the obvious inspiration for this is The Shining (1980), the characters of Babak and Neda are pushed in ways that are akin to stories you would also see in shows such as Doctor Who or Supernatural, in that the characters are placed in a haunting situation in order to understand something grounded about them.
The Night is a fantastic showcase for the feature-debut of Director Kourosh Ahari, and one that should be celebrated, as it is noted as being the first US-produced film fit for theatrical release in Iran since the Iran Revolution (1978-1979). Intense performances, intimate direction, and immersive cinematography make The Night an effectively creepy and inspiring thriller from opening to closing frame.
Spoiler Review To Follow.
Score: 8 / 10.