The Night: couple’s secrets return to haunt them
Iranian filmmaker Kourosh Ahari's neatly written psycho-drama is surprisingly twisty
05 April, 2021 — By Dan Carrier
Shahab Hosseini in The Night
Directed by Kourosh Ahari
IMAGINE you’ve spun your nearest and dearest a line that you regret – and now some unknown forces are meddling in your relationship, forcing you to confront the realities of your behaviour and how it affects those closest to you.
This premise is used in this neatly written and surprisingly twisty psychological horror by Kourosh Ahari.
Iranian film-maker Ahari moved to the USA aged 18 to study film, and his work has met great acclaim. He draws on the clash of life experiences via a childhood in Iran and adulthood in the US to understand cultural tension.
This comes over powerfully in The Night.
Babak (Shahab Hosseini, who starred in the excellent relationship drama A Separation) and Neda (Niousha Jafarian) are at a friend’s home, enjoying a dinner party.
They have put their new baby down in a bedroom and are relaxing, possibly for the first time since their child arrived, with their friends.
A dinner table game similar to the old classic Wink Murder brings up questions of truth and believability in a wholly innocent way – though being able to look your spouse in the face and tell barefaced lies is an important element of what is about to unravel.
Babak and Neda head home – but a faulty sat nav, which sends them round in circles, and a frosty atmosphere between the pair and an increasing fear that Babak has drunk too much to be safely driving, leads them to check into the rather eye-catching Hotel Normandie, rest up for the night, and start afresh the next day.
Unfortunately for the couple, the film world of psychological horror is never that straightforward.
The hotel, like The Overlook in The Shining, becomes a character in itself, and there are unexplained forces at work.
As Babak and Neda are the only guests, it’s little wonder they cop it.
The secrets they have held from each other and the lack of trust at the root of their relationship has created an evil vibe about them.
With a creepy atmosphere that manages to marry more traditional ghostly bump-in-the-night shocks with some mind-teasing psycho-drama, The Night is fascinating.
That it is the first USA-made movie (although the vast majority of the script is in Farsi) to be screened in Iran since the fall of the Shah in 1979 makes it both an interesting Trivial Pursuit answer, as well as showing how audiences living in two very different cultural worlds find common ground when it comes to things making you jump, scream and hide behind your sofa.