‘The Night House’ Stars Rebecca Hall, Vondie Curtis-Hall, & Evan Jonigkeit Discuss the Movie
The stars of the movie talk about the house where they shot the movie and one of the creepy props from the set.
‘The Night House’ tells the story of a woman named Beth (Rebecca Hall) who has recently lost her husband Owen (Evan Jonigkeit). She’s living in the lake house that Owen built for her, but she thinks there may be another presence in the house with her, and so her neighbor Mel (Vondie Curtis-Hall) is worried about her mental health. The actors recently took time to talk to us about their movie.
First, Rebecca Hall talks about having so many scenes by herself.
Moviefone: I believe I'm not really used to seeing you in this kind of female-driven horror movie role, and much of it you're acting solo. What was this experience like for you?
Rebecca Hall: It was very challenging. I knew it was going to be challenging going into it. I don't think I quite understood how challenging carrying a movie on your shoulders by yourself for so long is. I have definitely done over a handful of films where I'm in pretty much every scene, but I'm in every scene with another actor, and you get so much energy and idea and created energy from the other person in a scene with you, the other actor. So I was surprised by how difficult it is to just drag the horse by yourself.
MF: Not only that, but this is a horror movie. So there's terror and there's this house. That's another character in the movie. Tell me about that house. And then what was it like on set? So was there a real house and then there were sets? Or how was the house?
Hall: There was a real house. That looks as you see it in the first half of the movie. And it was incredible that they found a house on a lake with a window that had all the elements that they needed for this movie. And the house was great. And I got very used to the house for a week or two of the filming. And then towards the end of filming, we went to a sound stage where they recreated the inside of the house, some of it, but everything was just slightly off and different. Like some of it was flipped. Some of it was elongated. Some of the rooms were larger, and it was very unnerving because I was so used to the old house by that point. So, and I think the effect is actually very similar on the audience because I think David goes out of his way to educate the audience on the geography of the house at the beginning. So that when you get to the end, you are also feeling a little uncanny and a little uncomfortable, all those things.
MF: Absolutely. I felt all of those things. There's an interesting theme in this movie being, do we really know the people that are close to us, our loved ones? What do you think?
Hall: Well, I think that this movie is specifically dealing with the aftermath of a suicide, and I think any victim of a suicide is left with that feeling of how could I not have known this was? How did this happen? How was it? We were left with a lot of feelings, but I think that's a big one. And there's an argument that the film sort of takes that idea and takes it to an extremity so that we're watching a character trying to process this thing that has happened and therefore imagining, or not imagining, the most monstrous version of her husband that she could and to deal with it. But do we ever really know anyone? I don't know. It's a complicated question. One hopes. But, probably not.
MF: There are a couple of elements in the movie that are really based on real mythology, this sculpture that's actually in the Louvre, right? In Paris. And then the Welsh mazes. So, can you talk to those two elements of this film that are based on true mythology?
Hall: Yes. I know that David [Bruckner, the director] wanted them to be things that were real, so that people who were big horror fans or had seen them crop up in other areas would have a reference. But beyond that, they're symbolic and don't necessarily unlock as many mysteries as you'd think. So I think he liked the look of them as well.
MF: Yeah. What was your reaction when you first saw that voodoo sculpture, I guess the Louvre doll, it's called?
Hall: I was horrified. I found it really disturbing. I didn't want to be anywhere near her. I thought it was really, really horrible. I did a zoom with David Bruckner around the time, some point after we sold the movie at Sundance, and he had it on his bookshelf behind his head, and I was like, is that? Can you? What are you doing? Move it. That's horrible.
MF: Okay. I want to know. You're on set, you're making this movie. Is it scary when you're actually shooting it on set, or is it not? And then, how was your experience shooting it different from what you see as the final movie when you watch it?
Hall: Oh, it's always completely different. What you see on the screen. Even the most technically knowledgeable actors don't really have any understanding of what the final product's going to look like, because so much happens in the edit, so much happens in post-production, and we're not experiencing the shot, we're experiencing what we're looking at. So our perspective is quite different. So, it's always surprising to watch a movie that I'm in. It's always something that I have no idea about. I screamed several times when I saw this at Sundance pre-pandemic, I really jumped, and I knew what was coming. So there's that, but on set, it wasn't scary at all. The film set's the least scary places imaginable, everyone is constantly looking after actors and making sure they're okay. And, there's always someone making jokes and eating a sandwich, and there's just tons of people. It's just not remotely atmospheric in that sense.
Actors Vondie Curtis-Hall and Evan Jonigkeit talk about a running theme in the movie.
Moviefone: Vondie, this movie, a big running theme through the movie is relationships. And the question, do we really ever know our loved ones? What do you think?
Vondie Curtis-Hall: We all have secrets, right? We all have secrets. We don't know the person that we're sleeping next to. We don't know everything about them. And that, I think, that's one of the things in this movie that's really kind of interesting. You think one thing, your spouse passes. My wife dies and Rebecca supports me in that journey, but I don't think I knew everything about her, but the movie's not about that. The movie's about Rebecca's spouse dying and discover... Her journey of trying to figure out who he was. And so, what do we really know about the person who we're sleeping next to?
MF: Right. And what do we even really know about Mel? And Mel, what is Mel's relationship with Rebecca's character, with Beth?
Curtis-Hall: On the surface, he's the neighbor who lost his wife and who Rebecca supported and, who Beth supported and Owen supported with that loss. So, she was a comfort to me to help me get through that tragedy. And so, I'm there to reciprocate on the surface. Right? We don't know ultimately. But that's all I'll say,
MF: Yeah, we don't want to give away too much. Evan. The house is a big part of this movie. Really like another character in the movie. And it's the house that Owen built. So, describe the house to me.
Evan Jonigkeit: Well, it's his lifelong project, right? He was an architect by trade. So, he built this home that he poured his entire person into. And the details of that home. I mean, the home is beautiful, and they found this place in Syracuse, New York, that they renovated and added a floor to that. They made into the perfect home for an architect. And yeah, it's just a really elegant space.
MF: And we see a little of it, but I want to know more about the backstory of Owen. Is there one?
Jonigkeit: Yeah, I think that you do get little pieces of it, and you sort of sense him throughout the early part of the film. But ultimately, Owen was this very loving and devoted husband who truly loves his wife unconditionally. And though how the story unfolds and what you learn about Owen, as it continues to get later and later into the story, you wind up realizing that more and more. But it is a question, right? It's a question throughout the film as to what Owen's motivations are and were. And I think that was what really drew me to the character, was that question mark lingers in the audience's mind, and they're constantly asking themselves just that thing.
'The Night House' is now in theaters.