The Night House Movie Explained: Ending, Themes, and Metaphors analyzed
The Night House Movie Ending Explained & Themes Analyzed: The Rebecca Hall starrer opened to wide acclaim from fans and critics for its unique setup and subversion of expectations. ‘The Night House’ is seemingly a drama about how a wife grieves the death of her husband but soon realizes things are not as they seem. Director David Bruckner’s vision, though, completely revamps the film positioned not in conventional genre trappings but a flaming fusion of many of them. The complex narrative has left plenty of head-scratchers that we are here to answer for you. Read on to get the answers to questions that still remain after watching the film. If you have not seen it yet, visit it later after you have! Happy reading.
THE NIGHT HOUSE PLOT SYNOPSIS & SUMMARY:
Beth, a primary school teacher, loses her husband to suicide. She has trouble coping up with the loss and intends to sell the house off and start afresh. As she goes through her late husband’s things, she discovers some disturbing truths about his secret life. Photos of numerous other women on his phone that look like her; books about occult traditions; house plans for a mirror-image of their house. This coincides with supernatural events taking place in the house, foremostly including a dark specter like shape posing to be Owen talking to her.
Wandering around the forest, she discovers the house that she sees plans of in Owen’s belongings and in her vivid dreams. She also sees the women from the photos running from something around the house. In tracing the origin of the books to the store, she sees a woman from Owen’s phone working there. After confronting her, she visits the house in the forest in a drunken state and discovers several bodies under its floor bed. The horrifying truth about the bodies and an incident several years ago when she died for four minutes soon threatens to become a fatal reality.
WHERE DOES BETH GO WHEN SHE FALLS ASLEEP?
Every time Beth falls asleep, her subconscious mind gets triggered and takes her to different places seeing supernatural-like events. This technique has often been used in horror films, most recently in ‘Malignant‘, to represent a troubled state of mind. It is effective in exploring how the events of a story affect that character and lay heavy on their head. A common thread to all of Beth’s “nightmares” is the place she wakes up in: the bathroom.
During the climactic flashback sequence, this is the place where “nothing”, posing as Owen, traps Beth and belligerently throws her around. It sort of becomes a touchpoint for the spirit to interact with Beth and set her up for the finale.
WHY DOES OWEN KILL ALL THOSE WOMEN?
As Beth rummages through Owen’s belongings and phone, she finds several photos of women. The ladies look like her, similar enough to “trick” anyone into thinking they were Beth. This is exactly what Owen wanted to do. For a brief moment, we are shown what Own wrote in the margins of the book, and it has great significance here. “Trick it, do not talk to it”. “Nothing” reveals in the end that he accompanied Beth ever since she died for four minutes and saw “nothing”. In a bid to get her back, “nothing” kept talking into Owen’s ear, demanding him to kill Beth. In response to its demands, Owen visits an occult books store and attempts to trick the spirit and trap it inside something.
To accomplish the same, he builds an exact replica of his and Beth’s house in the woods and brings multiple women who look just like Beth to that house to trick “nothing”. When Beth, drunk and upset, visits the other house one night, she discovers the bodies of all the women who Owen had to murder in order to save Beth. His noble intentions are also indicated in the strange conversation Beth has with Madelyne, from the book store. As per the latter’s account, Owen stops at her request when she feels uncomfortable, and presumably, meets his threshold for murdering women, as Madelyne is the last known lady on his phone to survive.
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WHY DOES OWEN KILL HIMSELF?
Although it is never explicitly said, it is made obvious through Madelyne’s introduction into the storytelling that Owen finally hung up his shoes trying to kill women for Beth’s sake. The mysterious letter, once decoded by Beth to her shock, is a sign of resignation. He cannot kill anymore because “nothing” is relentless. It will stop at anything to retrieve Beth when she was destined to stay with him. Therefore, Owen could not bear going around killing women all his life to keep “nothing” at bay.
Initially, Beth projects her own state of mind on the suicide. There is an elaborate scene where she has a sort of “survivor’s guilt” in the pub. She feels that she passed on her sadness and depression to him but did not have the courage herself to go through with it. This clearly seems like a wrong assumption, as is revealed through flashbacks when we see Owen losing himself listening to “Nothing” order him to kill all the women.
THE NIGHT HOUSE MOVIE THEMES EXPLAINED & ANALYZED:
Extremities of Love
This is possibly the most frightening takeaway from the film for me. In a perverted way, the murders are a symbol of love between Beth and Owen. We have all seen how lovers go to great lengths to profess it to their partners. But this is the extreme. There is nothing that can outdo this great act of sacrifice of one’s own conscious self.
We see in the flashbacks that after a point, feeling compassion for the women and regret over his actions feels almost foreign to him. The later murders are committed with the indifference and coldness of a serial killer. The act itself loses significance for him; and so does its consequences. He comes to peace with the idea of protecting Beth from “nothing”.
Coping with Grief
Grief is another prominent theme in ‘The Night House’. Beth’s facade is gradually deconstructed to show the immeasurable pain at the core she feels for Owen’s loss. Seemingly at first, it seems that she is recovering from a divorce, watching her wedding night videos, and drinking alcohol. Soon enough, the suicide jumps at you in a visceral and raw moment out of nowhere.
The brilliant Rebecca Hall craftily brings out Beth’s motley of confusion, betrayal, anger, and guilt. The “why” of the event forces her to beckon the darkest secrets of Owen’s life and forces her to look for an explanation that is not forthcoming. Despite the rather abrupt detour that the movie takes from furthering this theme, Hall encapsulates a searing emotion seldom seen depicted on screen with such precision.
THE NIGHT HOUSE MOVIE ENDING EXPLAINED:
Normally, a horror film comes to its resolution with the spirit/ghost being eliminated or damned to peace. When the film has to develop into a franchise, the conclusion is delayed to preferably the last installment. ‘The Night House, though, does not seem to warrant a sequel, according to me. Because, “nothing” is not eliminated, neither is it going to rest until he finally gets Beth.
As we see in the end, Beth is awakened by cries from Claire, who instantly realizes what she is going to do when she sees her on the boat, just like Owen. “Nothing” forces her to see that she does not have anything left in life worth living for. He entices her to end her life albeit unsuccessfully. Beth wakes up in time and Claire steers her to safety. As Mel looks on toward the empty board, he coyly says, “There’s nothing there”. Beth’s reply, “I know” confirms that the spirit lives on but to what end? Will the torment continue, or has Beth figured out a way without showing us what it is? Either way, ‘The Night House’ ends with a mystery that might see a resolution in the coming sequel.