The Night House

The Night House ★★★

Once you have your first brush with Death, it can seem like it’s always calling to you from the far shore of the river Styx. After dodging a bullet or losing a loved one, you might hear Charon the ferryman whispering in your ear from time to time, beckoning you to cross over; to come back to the void; to embrace the eternal.

That’s just one of the fun thoughts that may be running through your mind during the first minutes of David Bruckner’s shudderingly intense and sadistically loud horror movie “The Night House,” a grief-stricken portrait of unraveling that begins with a small, empty dinghy bobbing against a dock on the shores of an idyllic New York lake. A path leads up to the beautiful home that Owen (Evan Jonigkeit) built for his wife a few years back — a house that has started to seem considerably bigger in the days since its architect took that boat out into the water one morning and shot himself in the head.

Now, Beth (Rebecca Hall) lives there alone, guzzling brandy in the middle of the night and rummaging around for some good reasons. The reason her husband took his own life. The reason why his spirit appears to her every night: First as a thud on the door, then as a naked phantom walking on the lake, and later in a series of ever more hostile and beguiling forms. At one point, a second, blood-red moon hangs in the sky next to the one we know; there’s no evidence to suggest it’s meant to be a vision of Pluto’s largest moon, but Charon only seems to draw closer as “The Night House” reveals the full meaning behind its title.