The supernatural horror film, The Night House, follows a grief-stricken woman who feels an eerie presence in her house after her husband’s suicide. David Bruckner directs the film starring Rebecca Hall from a screenplay written by Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski. The psychological horror narrative offers many intricate layers that uncannily hint at supernatural beliefs and practices from mythology. Let’s dig deeper.
‘The Night House’ Plot Summary
Beth Parchin (Rebecca Hall) is a New York-based school teacher who lives in a lake house built by her architect husband, Owen (Evan Jonigkeit). The couple had a happy married life for 14 long years until Owen shot himself at night one day. He took a boat and killed himself in the middle of the lake, leaving behind an ominous suicide note.
After the tragedy, Beth tries to fill the void, but Owen’s belongings constantly remind her of him. A grief-stricken Beth spends her nights drinking and starts dreaming about Owen’s return in her sleep.
One morning, Beth finds blood footprints near the lake and suddenly hears a gunshot. After a week, Beth goes back to work to cope with the tragedy and decides to sell off the house for her sanity.
While packing the items in the house, Beth finds ominous writings in Owen’s diary, but she ignores them after deciphering their meaning. Later that night, Beth dreams about Owen sending her a text and calling her to meet her outside the house. Shaken by the nightmare, Beth checks Owen’s phone. While scrolling through the gallery, she finds a photo of a strange woman that looks like Beth but isn’t her.
Beth shows the picture to her friend, Claire Woodward (Sarah Goldberg), at school. Claire also believes that it’s Beth in the photo, but Beth argues that she doesn’t have the gown worn by the woman in the picture. Claire convinces Beth that she is struggling with the tragedy and thus finding her existence by digging up the past. The girl hangs out later that night, and at the bar, Beth reveals that she feels an unusual presence at the house, maybe a ghost.
Major Spoilers Ahead
What was happening at the house?
At the house, Beth sensed an eerie shadow constantly looking at her or following her. In her sleep, Beth believed that the shadow was Owen’s spirit trying to communicate with her. Beth followed the spirit and reached a hidden “night house” on the other side of the lake. From outside the house, Beth saw Owen trying to kiss a woman in the bedroom. There were other women in the house who resembled Beth.
However, as soon as Beth entered the house, she blanked out and woke up from the dream. Instantly, Beth checked Owen’s laptop and found tons of pictures of other women who looked a little like Beth. During the daytime, Beth went into the woods and found the house she saw in her sleep. The house resembled their house but was utterly unattended and ruined. Later, the local caretaker, Mel (Vondie Curtis-Hall), confessed to Beth that her late husband brought other women in her absence.
Beth found a “Louvre Voodoo Doll” at the ruined Night house that made her believe that her late husband was really into something darker. Beth scattered Owen’s belongings and found an occult book, “Caerdroia,” sold by Books & Melodies. She quickly found the address and visited the book shop the next day. At the bookstore, Beth saw an employee, Madelyne, who resembled Beth and was the woman whose photo she saw on Owen’s phone. Madelyne confessed that she knew Owen and went out with him a few times but didn’t sleep with him as Beth accused. Beth concluded that Owen had a secret life that he buried in the night house. She decided to go back to that house to unravel the mystery.
Was Owen a murderer?
Later that night, Madelyne, stricken by guilt, visited Beth. She spoke in honesty and informed Beth that she didn’t sleep with her husband but would have. One afternoon, Owen brought her to the night house, where they kissed each other. Suddenly, Owen started hurting Madelyne, and she asked him to stop, and he did. For some reason, Owen began to crying and felt guilty. He drove Madelyne back to her home, and before leaving, he told her that he had to end it for good. Madelyne thought Owen felt guilty about cheating on Beth, and he would end his illicit affairs for his loyal wife. But it wasn’t the case.
A heavily inebriated Beth visited the night house to unravel the mystery. While searching the ruined premise, Beth found multiple dead bodies under the floorboards. Beth ran away from there in a panic. She called Claire in fear, but she didn’t pick up. At midnight, the invisible spirit contacted Beth again. For a moment, Beth believed it was Owen, but the spirit denied it.
In her vision, the invisible spirit revealed to Beth how Owen lured innocent women and brought them to the night house. He brutally murdered the woman who looked like Beth and buried them under the floorboards. In the beginning, Beth saw a blueprint of a “reverse floor plan” and thought it was probably Owen who designed it to hide the bodies. However, in the end, the invisible force or the spirit took the form of Owen’s body and revealed to Beth that she already knew him. They had met before but left him on the night they met. Who is he?
Who was the Invisible Spirit lurking in the house?
In Act 1, Beth narrated a past event to Claire where she told her about her death experience when she was seventeen. When Beth was in Tennessee, she went on a trip with a friend in her high school. Their car met a deadly accident, and they flipped over the side of the mountain. Due to the fatal accident, Beth’s lungs were crushed, and they had to airlift her out of the car. According to Beth, her heart stopped for four minutes. She was literally dead for that moment. However, when she came back to life, she symbolically cheated death. And the carrier of death came looking for her.
In Greek mythology, the psychopomp, also known as the Grim Reaper, Charon, or Kharon, transported the souls of the dead to the underworld. Charon, the ferryman of Hades, crossed the river of Styx and brought souls from the living world to the world of death. Probably, Beth escaped the psychopomp who came back hunting for her soul.
In the end, Death confronted Beth and revealed to her that she met him first when she died in Tennessee. Since then, the spirit had been trailing her. The spirit called itself “nothing.” Owen used the phrase specifically in his ominous suicide letter, where he wrote, “Nothing is after you.” Death wanted Beth’s soul. Thus, it whispered to Owen to kill Beth and send her back. But Owen loved her a lot. He tried to trick the spirit. Owen had written in his diary, “Trick it, don’t listen to it.”
To trick “nothing,” Owen constructed a similar house in the form of a maze with reversed spaces to weaken the dark forces. He read those occult tricks from Caerdroia and even bought the Louvre Voodoo Doll to keep the devil away. However, when these tricks failed, Owen brought Beth’s look-alike to the house and sacrificed their souls to death so that it would leave Beth alone. However, in the end, all his attempts failed to fool death, and probably “it” compelled Owen to take his own life. Or maybe, Owen killed himself in guilt and end the horrors from his life.
‘The Night House’ Ending Explained
The death spirit finally captured Beth in the vision. She saw two blood moons that symbolically represented “death’s eyes.” The spirit convinced Death to stop fighting as there was no running away from death. In the real world, Claire reached the lake house and found Beth sitting on the boat floating in the lake. The symbolic visual looked like ferryman Charon was taking Beth away to the underworld in his boat. As soon as Claire saw a gun in Beth’s hand, she quickly jumped into the water to save her friend.
In her vision, Death constantly tried to persuade Beth to take her life and end the pursuit. He revealed that there was nothing else to live except death. However, before Beth could take her own life, Claire pulled her into the water and woke her up from the nightmare.
Claire brought Beth back to the berth, but Beth constantly stared at the floating boat as if it was still calling or waiting for her. Mel curiously looked in the direction and said, “There’s nothing.” To which Beth replied, “I know.”
As we all know, death is not going to leave Beth alone. He wants Beth’s soul to bring it back to the underworld. And he won’t rest until he gets what he wants. There is no escape from death.
The Night House is a 2021 horror thriller film directed by David Bruckner.