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

I’m not that well versed in the Iranian cinema landscape, but what I have seen has left me pleasantly surprised. From the unusual vampire flick ‘A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night’ to the chilling ‘Under the Shadow’, there’s something that sticks to the bone in these films. So, I had high hopes when pressing play on ‘The Night’.

Babak (Shahab Hosseini) and his wife Neda (Niousha Noor) are traveling home late at night with their infant daughter strapped in the back seat. They’ve just come from a dinner party with friends where Babak might have had a few too many drinks to soothe his tooth ache. They decide to pull over and stay at the Hotel Normandie. And you guessed it; that’s when things start going bump in ‘The Night’.

First time director Kourosh Ahari and screenwriter Milad Jarmooz certainly know their classics. The grand hotel Normandie looks and feels like the nightmarish love child between The Dolphin Hotel from ‘1408’ and the ever-iconic Overlook Hotel from ‘The Shining’. The same thing can be said for the narrative of the film as well. Things start off slowly as the psychological dread is ramped up before everything (and everyone) starts going crazy.

The eerie atmosphere creeps up on you and the few sparse jump scares are very well executed. Goosebumps are guaranteed, you simply can’t fault the film on that.

When it comes to the narrative it’s a little less convincing. Explanations are certainly given as to why this couple can’t seem to escape from Hotel Hell, but anyone who’s seen a few horror films knows the drill by now. There aren’t many original twists on the formula to make this distinctly stand on its own. Thankfully the strong direction and performances help you ignore that fact until the credits roll.

The Night’ cooks with familiar ingredients from a safe recipe but knows exactly how to season the dish to make the meal worth your while.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Night releases January 29, 2021 (In Theaters & On Demand)

Review – ‘The Night’

Reviewed online (screener provided by IFC Midnight), January 17, 2021. Rating: TBC. Running time: 105 min.

PRODUCTION: An IFC Midnight release of a Mammoth Pictures production in association with Indie Entertainment, Orama Filmworks, 7Skies Entertainment, Leveller Media, SuperNova8 Films. Producers: Kourosh Ahari (p.g.a.), Jeffrey Allard, Armin Amiri, Alex Bretow (p.g.a.), Mohammad Dormanesh, Cheryl Dillard Staurulakis. Executive producers: Behnam Behbahani, Ryan Clarkson, Chris Johns, P.K. Patel, George Rush, David Spisak, Leo Staurulakis.

CREW: Director: Kourosh Ahari. Screenplay: Kourosh Ahari, Milad Jarmooz. Cinematography: Maz Makhani. Score: Nima Fakhrara.

CAST: Shahab Hosseini, Niousha Noor, George Maguire, Michael Graham, Elester Latham, Armin Amiri, Kathreen Khavari, Gia Mora.

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