Spooky Persian-American Thriller

Kourosh Ahari’s slick debut as director is a stylish, decently scary horror thriller with creepy undertones, recalling the dark spirit of Kubrick’s The Shining. Following an Iranian couple living in California, an unplanned hotel visit turns into a nightmarish experience they’ll never forget.

Made with a thoughtful screenplay which features most of its dialogue in Farsi, The Night never quite knows whether it’s an unnerving psychological thriller or unrepentant horror film. The unsettling movie deserves an audience but its slow-burning emotional suspense may not be for everyone.

.. .genre fans may get frustrated with The Night but there’s no doubt director Kourosh Ahari has crafted a harrowing thriller

Those expecting graphic gore and visceral storytelling will likely feel unsatisfied by The Night’s unconventional staging. The pay-off’s final execution also falls a tad short. The Night is like a gymnast that performs a great trick but doesn’t quite stick the landing.

An intriguing and clever premise begins slowly with a few traditional but sincerely creepy scenes intended for adults. The Night isn’t made for teens. This is a thinking man’s horror made about adult problems and fears. Personal issues drive the protagonists and the secrets they’ve been keeping from each other. Tragic marital problems lie at the film’s guilty heart.

Staying out late one night at a friend’s gathering, Iranian parents Babak (Shahab Hosseini) and Neda (Niousha Jafarian) suddenly decide it’s better staying over at a hotel than making the long trek back home with their young infant in tow.

The bickering couple stay at the ominous Hotel Normandie, an eerily empty place for a hotel in the middle of a city. Their night becomes an unending series of unexplained disturbances and spooky happenings, confronting dark family secrets which plays upon their fears.

The small cast is wonderful at slowly building their characters with careful emotional depth and nuance. That is almost a necessity for the reveals that develop later in the movie, though smarter viewers may well guess where The Night goes with its stressful drama and growing dread.

Genre fans may get frustrated with The Night but there’s no doubt director Kourosh Ahari has crafted a harrowing thriller. It’s a promising debut for the filmmaker which hints at greater things down the road.

The Night Blu-ray screen shot

Audio

Filmed with ARRI cameras, The Night has a relatively dark aesthetic with sharp definition and a little crushing in shadows. Black levels are generally excellent with superb clarity.

The 2.40:1 presentation retains the film’s theatrical aspect ratio. The Night runs 105 minutes, receiving a quality AVC encode on a BD-50. Scream Factory does a technically clean transfer for Blu-ray presumably from the movie’s pristine digital intermediate.

The unfiltered cinematography is fairly ordinary and has a low-budget feel, resulting in decent but unremarkable 1080p video. The moody atmosphere offers a nice contrast with acceptable shadow delineation. Color saturation is excellent for well-lit scenes.

Audio

The Night’s dialogue is almost entirely in Farsi, a language primarily spoken in Iran and other Persian populations. It should be noted that Scream Factory includes forced English subtitles for translation, so native speakers may be annoyed they can’t defeat them.

The movie’s 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack is a sparse but effectively atmospheric surround mix. The jump scares are built up with the usual tricks from a moody, haunting score. Dialogue is cleanly delivered in balance with the more dynamic audio elements. Loud knocks and dripping water highlight memorable sonic thrills.

The deep bass presence is a nice touch, adding punch and bite to several spooky scenes. Audio design is surprisingly well-developed for an indie film. The soundstage is pushed forward but has excellent panning and directionality, creating a palpable sense of space and depth.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font, inside the scope presentation. An Audio Descriptive Track is offered in 2.0 DTS-HD MA.

Extras

Scream Factory provides a slipcover for The Night. Reversible interior art offers your choice of two different covers.

The Night Trailer (01:59 in HD)

Shout Factory Trailers (06:53 in HD) – Stardust, Embattled, and No Man’s Land all play before the main menu.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Night
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3

Movie

A slow but emotionally satisfying and haunting thriller made almost entirely in Farsi.

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 35 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: