“Gone in the Night” is a shaky, imbalanced thriller mystery film that seems somewhat lost in its own tale. Setting out to tell the story of a couple who go through an awkward time on their weekend getaway, the narrative shifts between timelines and ultimately ends itself not so satisfactorily. Surprise twists are left too late to have much effect, and there is hardly much to watch here other than Winona Ryder’s performance, maybe.
‘Gone In The Night’ Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Kath and Max have been in a relationship for around a year now, and the two set out for a getaway trip to a remote house in the woods that Max has booked for themselves. As Kath drives and discusses the suddenness of the trip with her boyfriend, it seems that Max’s haste in pushing for the vacation was because of his girlfriend’s love for nature and the outdoors. Finally, when Kath is tired of the long drive and the endless navigation instructions that she has had to follow, the two reach their destination much later in the evening. However, the scene that greets them is very unlike the romantic trip they had imagined for themselves, as the couple spots another car already parked in front of the house. Even before they can process such information, a man, visibly quite younger than them, walks out onto the porch looking at their car. Sure that there is some sort of confusion going on, as he had booked the house online and paid for it in full as well, Max goes over to have a word with the man, and Kath follows in a few moments.
The man argues that he and his girlfriend are occupying the house from before, and is quite dismissive of Max and Kath when they try to tell him of their booking. As a minor argument goes on for some time, a woman, quite clearly the stranger’s girlfriend, walks out of the cabin and offers the protagonist couple to spend the night inside the property along with them. Despite the plight that they would fall into if they drive away from the cabin—there are no hotels anywhere nearby, and Kath is clearly tired of all the driving and would herself have to drive again as Max does not know how to; Kath does not wish to intrude and wants to drive away. But when Max goes over and has a word with her, particularly about her already having had a lot of adventures, Kath quickly changes her mind and decides to stay at the cabin. The two couples get to know each other, and Al and Greta (the other couple) are not just much younger than our protagonists, but their choices and likes in life are also very different. Gradually, as they spend the night drinking and playing suggestive board games together, Kath feels that the easy-going Greta is trying hard to flirt with Max, and Max, too, is responding to it. Already tired of the journey and also a bit weirded out by this new happening, she retires to her room early and goes to sleep by herself.
When Kath wakes up the next morning, she notices that she is still alone in her bed, and then, stepping out of her room, she sees that she is alone in the whole house. With no cellular network at the place and also remembering about a walking trail that apparently goes over to a nearby beach from the house, she takes the path in search of her boyfriend. Within a few minutes, she runs into Al, who looks very disturbed, sitting with his face in his hands, and the young man claims that Greta and Max have actually romanced each other and have run away together. Shocked at the act of her partner, who is indeed nowhere to be seen, Kath runs back to the house and then drives back home on her own.
How Does Kath Try To Find Her Still-Missing Boyfriend?
By now, Kath is already established as a woman who is rather shaky and under-confident about herself, especially about her growing age. The fact that her boyfriend, Max, is a few years younger than her does not help too much either. The woman had been a teacher to Max in a continuing education class when the two had developed an interest in each other and had then started their relationship. Despite starting off on very good terms, possibly, their differences had started to show as Max was more into getting themselves into seemingly dangerous, or as he calls it, adventurous, situations, while Kath did not really enjoy these. After Max’s disappearance, due to his apparent whirlwind romance with Greta, Kath wanted to let the matter be initially, as she tells her close friend that the situation was perhaps a boon as her relationship with Max was not going well. But within some time, curiosity catches up with her, and she tries searching for Greta on the internet but finds nothing. She then finds out about the owner of the property, the house in the woods where they had gone, and she calls the number up. The call is answered by a man named Nicholas Barlow, who insists that he cannot give out private details of any guests to anyone, and decides to meet Kath about her inquiry instead.
The two meet the next day, and Barlow seems a serious but helpful man who rather enjoys his conversation with Kath. The woman comes clean about what exactly has happened to her and why she wants to track Greta down, and Nicholas does not mind helping her. During their conversation, Kath also learns, through a stranger who walks into the café they are in, that Nicholas Barlow had actually been a pioneer in a biotech startup in partnership with this stranger. This startup was being bought over by GlaxoSmithKline for a lot of money, but Barlow ultimately made his way out of it and lived a reclusive life from then on. As Kath and Barlow keep meeting over time, and eventually share a lot about themselves, the man says that his father had passed away from a genetic disease of the nerves called synaptic hypertropia just before the deal was signed, and this made him wonder about his own life. Having decided that he did not want a usual life just chasing financial checkpoints, Barlow had given up his professional career, had bought the cabin in the woods and moved in there to spend life by himself.
Going over to the address mentioned by Greta in her booking details, Kath finds the young woman entering an underground music performance and follows her there. Facing Kath, Greta awkwardly apologizes to her for being a “home-breaker,” so to speak, but her words do not seem too genuine. She kind of suggests that Max has started a relationship with her and does not really care about Kath anymore, and it appears like she has a sense of rubbing it in Kath’s face. The young woman then drops her phone, and Kath takes a glance at the wallpaper, which is Greta’s face beside the sleeping face of Max. Heartbroken and feeling rather disrespected, Kath drives over with Barlow, and the man now shares his life’s wisdom with her, talking about how he fears his father’s nervous system disease is bound to pass on to his body soon, as it is genetic. Kath asks whether he is doing fine so far, and the man reveals that he has, in fact, been researching the illness for thirty years, trying to come up with a transfusion therapy treatment against it. Once back at her home, Kath goes through the process of getting over her lover, who had clearly ditched her, and it does not seem to take her too much effort either, as she burns off Max’s hat, signifying that she wants to get over it. She then drives over to Barlow’s house in the woods one afternoon, hoping to meet him and spend some time together, possibly even wanting to turn their friendly relationship into a romantic one.
Along with all these things happening, “Gone in the Night” also spreads scenes of flashbacks over the course of its narrative, which reveal past incidents in Max’s life before their getaway trip, and the film builds up its tension and mystery in this manner. Only a day before they had driven to the woods, Max and Kath were hosting a few of Kath’s friends for dinner, and Max was quite visibly detached from the serious conversations that they were having. He did try his best but felt rather ridiculed when his girlfriend made fun of his habit of wearing limited-edition, hard-to-find clothes. Leaving the party, pretending to buy some more wine, Max went over to a grocery store where he ran across a young couple having some sort of disagreement. This couple was the same that was earlier shown, that of Al and his girlfriend, Greta. Exchanging rather judgmental comments at first, Max agreed to go have a drink with the couple, perhaps, because of Greta’s flirtatious questions towards him, which continued throughout the evening that the three spent together. The couple had then told Max about a music show that was about to take place two days later, and asked him to drive down to the cabin in the woods the next day, where they would spend the night and go over to the show the following morning.
Max returned home with this idea, and instead of going alone, he decided to take Kath along. When the couple arrived at the house the next evening, Al and Greta were initially shocked, and even a bit scared, especially Al, as it seemed that they had some ill intentions in mind, but Greta insisted her boyfriend play along with the whole scene. Max spoke to Al in private, telling him that he had decided to surprise his girlfriend by bringing her here, and Greta then let them stay. However, with the information now having been established that the house was actually not a place rented out, but rather Al and Greta had invited Max there, it raises a number of questions about Nicholas Barlow’s involvement in all this and what his real intentions are. At present, when Kath appears at Barlow’s door, he politely asks her in and then excuses himself, saying that he needs to gather firewood and walks into the forest area.
‘Gone In The Night’ Ending Explained: What Does Kath Finally Find Out In The Cabin In The Woods?
As Kath spends time by herself inside Barlow’s house, she goes around casually looking at things, and now stumbles upon a photograph of Barlow and Al, which clearly suggests that the two are father and son. The entire atmosphere changes into one of tension as Kath spots a locked door and opens it up with Barlow’s set of keys, which he had left on the counter. She then walks out into the woods and sees a large cargo container, and once again uses Barlow’s keys to get in. Here, she receives the shock of her life as she sees Max lying on a makeshift operation table, alive but with multiple medical incisions made on his body through which his blood is being pulled out into blood bags. She tries to wake him up, but Max only replies with gibberish, in a drugged trance. On the other hand, Al and Greta had been inside Barlow’s house when Kath had knocked, which made the young couple run out and hide in the woods. When Barlow excuses himself to go gather firewood, he actually meets them, and when they return to the house, they find that Kath has opened up the locked room leading to the section of the woods where they had abducted and kept Max. They, too, now go to the cargo container, and things fall into place through their confrontation.
Al had been convinced that his father, Nicholas Barlow, had the same synaptic hypertrophy that had killed his grandfather, and was desperate to help his father recover from the illness. He knew of his father’s research into a blood transfusion treatment and also knew that they needed fresh blood, meaning a donor, to carry out the transfusion. He and his girlfriend, Greta, had planned the entire scheme to lure Max into their house, and Kath’s presence only slightly affected this plan. They had managed to get Max out of the house, and had then abducted him and handed him over to Barlow. The father keeps insisting that he did not have any idea about his son and his girlfriend’s twisted plans before they had actually carried them out, but Greta now makes a grave revelation about the man. She produces a medical document that shows that Barlow did not actually have the neurotic disease and was essentially doing the whole transfusion therapy to renew his blood cells with that of a younger man, trying to lengthen his already natural life. Greta also admits that she had actually played along with the whole plan because she herself wanted to lengthen her own life in the same manner, and her character turns out to be a rather evil one who insists that they should now kill Kath. Al, who genuinely believed that his father was dying, confronts the man, saying that he should have told him the truth, and Al ultimately sides with his father rather than his girlfriend. Kath had earlier tried to stop the blood transfusion process and pull out the IV channels on Max’s body, but Barlow claimed that doing so would not help him as the blood of their two bodies (Max and Barlow’s) now shared a single blood supply source, and Max would have to stay in this process forever. Kath now suddenly claims that she wants to receive this transfusion herself, saying that she too had unfairly used Max’s young age in a slightly different manner as she tried to feel young herself through Max, and essentially bought some unattended time for herself. During this short time, she decides to take the chance of rescuing Max and pulls out all the IV channels from his body, and walks him towards the exit. Greta tries to get in the way, but she is stopped by Al, on the instructions of Barlow, who does not want to do any harm to Kath. However, in an even more surprising twist, Max, in his delusional trance, rips out a tube attached to his throat, spitting out blood everywhere, and the man dies quickly from extreme blood loss. Kath leaves the container alone and locks it up from the outside with Barlow, Al, and Greta still in it. She then rushes to her car, looks at her aging skin once again in the rearview mirror, and comes out again to enter the empty cabin. Kath goes over to a window and looks out towards the woods, and “Gone in the Night” rolls its end credits here.
The director has evidently kept a mystery, or at least an air of uncertainty, with the ending, as Kath first decides to leave and then suddenly decides against it. Whether her decision to enter the empty cabin again was to take a breather from all the sudden emotional and physical shocks that she faced over the last few minutes, or whether her intentions were something else, is left to one’s imagination. However, with the sort of characterization that Kath has been given throughout the film, her issues about her growing age and its physical manifestations are real. Now that her boyfriend is also dead, she probably has very little to lose and might actually force Barlow to transfuse blood for her, which would then stop her aging process. “Gone in the Night” keeps away its crux for far too long and then presents all of it so rapidly that it hardly has any effect. The twists, in the end, do not convince at all, and ultimately make the film a disappointing watch.
“Gone in the Night” is a 2022 Drama Thriller film directed by Eli Horowitz.