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THE NIGHT Delivers Solid Psychological Frights

While lost in the middle of the night, a couple and their young daughter stop at an old hotel to rest until morning. Their quick overnight is anything but restful, as they are plagued by disturbances that become increasingly more frightening. Throughout their experience, they will be forced to not only face the menacing presence within the hotel walls, but their own skeletons.

Shahab Hosseini as ‘Babak Naderi’ in Kourosh Ahari’s THE NIGHT. Courtesy of IFC Midnight. An IFC Midnight Release.

Having recently moved to the US from Iran, Babak (Shahab Hosseini) and his wife Neda (Niousha Noor) spend an evening with some friends for dinner. As the women chat while preparing the meal, Babak and his friend Farhad (Armin Amiri) venture to another room to smoke and drink, revealing some hardships. After dinner, the couple decide to leave before it gets too late and to get their infant daughter to her own bed. With Babak inebriated, Neda attempts to convince him to let her drive, but he refuses.

After driving for some time, they end up in the downtown area, with the GPS failing to reroute them. With tensions growing between them and midnight approaching, they decide to turn in at a nearby hotel. It’s an old, desolate place, with just the hotel manager (George Maguire) in sight. Once checked in, they attempt to get some sleep, but their night is filled with unexplained events. From strange sounds to hallucinations, Babak and Neda will be terrorized by something unknown that seems to be pulling from their own secrets.

Lily V.K as ‘Sophia’ in Kourosh Ahari’s THE NIGHT. Courtesy of IFC Midnight. An IFC Midnight Release.

Written and directed by Kourosh Ahari, serving as his directorial debut, The Night is a chilling horror film that builds consistent tension, both supernatural and other, to deliver unexpected psychological frights. While it certainly has some of your more standard scares at times, including a few well placed diegetic moments, it really leans heavily on giving you a sense of unease. It’s often unassuming in its reveals, which I found to be the ones that stick with you the most.

Both Hosseini and Noor give exceptional performances, encompassing all the horrors their characters are experiencing. Their terror is so real, and you feel it jumping at you from the screen. There is a deep sadness to Noor’s particularly, and you begin to empathize with her on another level as their relationship dynamic is explored.

Niousha Jafarian as ‘Neda Naderi’ in Kourosh Ahari’s THE NIGHT. Courtesy of IFC Midnight. An IFC Midnight Release.

While otherwise fantastic storytelling, I did find the film’s second half to have a few tedious moments of repetitiveness. There was too much time spent on Babak running fearfully—but aimlessly—through the hotel. Although I enjoyed the openness for the audience to interpret parts, I would have much preferred that time was spent developing some of the ideas and potential mythologies further.

However, I don’t think that takes away from the film overall, as Ahari delivers effective scares that go beyond the expected; including one that still has me thoroughly creeped out. The film does a great job of creating a new experience for the viewer, balancing the terror elements and relationship drama very well.

The Night is available On Demand this Friday, January 29th

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