Last year, the film “Night” by Iranian director Kourosh Ahari was shown in the United States at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, but the premiere in Russia took place in April 2021.
At the very beginning there is a so-called Flash Warning, which warns against the use of bright flashes, thereby warning sensitive viewers.
As it may seem, the plot is quite simple and trivial for the horror genre – a young Iranian couple, after gatherings at home with friends and playing mafia, returns home. Babak and Neda have a one-year-old daughter, Shabman, in whom no one cares. But everything turned out to be not so simple, it seems that the road to the house is not far, and there is a navigator in the car, but the drunken state of the man and a sharp glitch in the GPS make the couple experience their own and marital nerves.
After a little quarrel, they come to the decision that it is better to relax and spend the night in some institution, so as not to cause problems to their friends, from whom they have just left. Babak chooses the nearest Normandy Hotel, where they are met at the very entrance by a frightening old homeless man, muttering incomprehensible words. But they still go inside, or rather knock to be let in, which is also alarming.
The doorman sells them a suite and explains how to use the front door. Babak’s gaze is riveted by Rene Magritte’s painting “Reproduction is prohibited”, and for good reason. Tired spouses want to fall asleep as soon as possible, but strange things begin to happen in the hotel: Neda’s unnatural double, trying to pick up the child, knocks on the door, footsteps on the roof, a child’s cry “Mom!”. Even calling the police could not clarify the situation. He just laughed at them, and then somehow mysteriously disappeared, like earlier the boy calling for his mother and the young girl who had been chasing Babak.
Everything is cleared up when the couple runs out of the premises with their daughter. Babak forgets his car keys in his room and returns, leaving his wife and daughter to wait. Then the same mysterious man comes up to Nedya and says, already clearly, that they need to “confess”.
Here everything becomes clearer – hallucinations and visions were not a constant ancient evil of the hotel, this is a necessary chain for changing characters in order to confess their secrets to each other and, finally, shed the heavy burden of misunderstanding and groundless aggression.
Dawn breaks – Neda has revealed her secret. But the hotel door is still closed to Babak, who does not dare to “confess”, instead he does not listen to his wife, frantically trying to hide under the pretext of seeking funds to open the castle. Was Babak’s secret so terrible, since he was not ready to reveal himself to his wife and himself?
The meaning of the film
Quite a classic version of the development of events for a horror film at first glance, but here a real psychological thriller unfolds. He will not scare the viewer with unexpected sounds and screamers (although the musical accompaniment definitely keeps you in suspense).
The film is rather a big metaphor about the complexity of self-knowledge. This is a difficult test, passing through which a person begins to be afraid of himself, and everyone around even laughs at him. However, it is still necessary to accept your past in order to understand yourself, so as not to hurt loved ones.
Characteristics of heroes
The actors in this movie are really talented. The scenes of Babak’s weeping will not leave anyone indifferent. And his wary look, filled with either bitterness or indifference, makes you worry with him. The hero was played by Iranian actor and director Shahab Hosseini, known for films with Asghar Farhadi. The hero of Shahab is on the verge, everything goes wrong, everything irritates, dripping on the nerves like a leaky faucet. And a toothache, and problems in marriage, and you can’t smoke because of your wife’s asthma. Unresolved problems from the past haunt a man, preventing him from building normal relationships in the present and maintaining them in the future.
As for Neda (Nyusha Nur, an actress who repeatedly appears in American cinema), her character can admit her mistakes, is ready for contact with a loved one, but, taking on such a burden of responsibility, she gets more than others, for example, an accidental blow the knife of a husband who has lost connection with reality. An interesting detail is that everyone strives to take the child away from the parents. Now a strange porter feeding Shabnam, telling terrible stories along the way, then a policeman informing the couple about the death of his daughter, then a false image of Neda.
The role of the eccentric porter, by the way, was played by George Maguire. The character turned out to be quite frightening with his strange stories about witnessing many disasters: the assassination of the Kennedy brothers, a hurricane in Puerto Rico. But he considers the death of a child to be the most terrible tragedy, saying this to his father in the eye, along the way feeding the girl from a bottle. All of this is perhaps a huge warning. Because of the mistakes of parents, children always suffer. Unresolved problems and omissions strongly affect the child, and if they are not resolved, then you can lose touch with the child forever.
The film contains enough references to famous world masterpieces. What is the indistinct, reluctantly stretching, I wanna be loved by you Marilyn Monroe, who is completely confusing and frightening in an empty hotel. The setting itself is very much reminiscent of Kubrick’s “The Shining”, especially the image of the porter, reminiscent of the same bartender. It is possible that this character is a reflection of the heroes themselves.
But the most striking detail is the painting by Magritte, in which a young man looks into the mirror, where he sees only the back of his head. It is interesting that it is Babak who draws attention to the canvas, examining it for a long time. This is a reference to the fact that it is he who is most difficult to figure out his gut. At the very end, the plot of the picture is repeated with the hero himself. He looked in the mirror and saw the back of his head. Still, he could not know himself and solve the problems of the past days? Will the “night” never end for him?
The movie is definitely worth watching, if only because it is interesting to study.
Everything is here:
- mesmerizing performance of professional actors;
- high-quality visual;
- references to cult works;
- gloomy atmosphere;
- mysterious ending.
If you are accustomed to consider the fruits of cinematography and love the hidden meaning, then “Night” by Kurosh Ahari will definitely suit you!