Rebecca Hall: Horror genre can tackle things hard to articulate
By David Villafranca
Los Angeles, Aug 20 (EFE).- Feelings of grief, suffering and loss are disturbingly evident and palpable in “The Night House,” a sophisticated and captivating psychological horror film in which the heroine faces existential dilemmas within the conventions of that genre.
In an interview with Efe, the lead actress, Rebecca Hall, talked about why horror and genre films can sometimes be superior vehicles for tackling and addressing extreme situations and powerful emotions, including those associated with the death of a close loved one.
“They can often handle things that we have a hard time talking about or grappling with, and sometimes don’t work as well if you just make a straight drama about grief,” she said.
The premise of the film, which is directed by David Bruckner (“The Ritual,” 2017) and premieres at theaters across the United States on Friday after being screened in January 2020 at the Sundance Film Festival, is a simple one: Beth (Hall) is emotionally shattered after her husband (Evan Jonigkeit) commits suicide.
In her fragile state, she begins to feel a supernatural presence at night in her gorgeous lakeside home that makes her reexamine her life and question her most deep-seated convictions.
Besides Hall’s compelling performance, “The Night House” is remarkable for the meticulous filmmaking of Bruckner, who capitalizes on every nook and cranny of the house and skillfully leverages visual effects and Elisha Christian’s cinematography to magnify the sense of terror, obsession and anguish.
“I was completely fascinated by his determination to only tackle horror movies. I found that so intriguing straight off the bat. I was like this is a director who is interested just in perfecting one genre and he’s already a master at it,” the 39-year-old English actress said.
“I mean he understands the precision that it takes … He’s constantly tracking where an audience is at any point in the story. He knows when they need a jump scare. He knows when they need to have a moment to relax. And that sense of timing and intuition about the audience’s experience I think really sets directors apart.”
Hall noted that one unique aspect of the film was its examination of a particular stage of grief and loss.
“There’s plenty of movies that deal with grief a few months after the fact when someone’s like trying to build their life back together. But I can’t think of a movie that deals with this sort of nowhere land directly after a funeral, but before the moment where the character has sort of processed the event enough to be able to cry and grieve,” she said.
“So they’re just in this sort of limbo space of non-reality, shock, anger. I just thought that was such an interesting moment to pick up on her story. Aside from anything else it makes her an incredibly dangerous heroine because she’s willing to be haunted. She’s got nothing to lose and that’s sort of frightening to watch on some level.”
Asked about the challenge of being alone in front of the camera in virtually every scene, Hall said her ability to improvise was put to the test.
“There was nothing to play off of. I don’t know. I’m glad it worked. It was hard. I just threw myself into it and tried to believe as much as possible what was happening was happening and leave the rest up to chance,” she told Efe. “I mean I often didn’t really know what I was going to do when he called action. It was a good way to do it somehow. There was a lot of instinct.” EFE