By MICHAEL GINGOLD
IFC Midnight’s psychological horror film has been compared to THE SHINING.
THE NIGHT will be released to select theaters and on VOD and digital platforms January 29. The directorial debut of Iranian filmmaker Kourosh Ahari, who scripted with Milad Jarmooz, it’s the first U.S.-produced film to receive distribution in Iran in four decades. The cast is headed by Cannes Film Festival Best Actor winner Shahab Hosseini, Niousha Jafarian and George Maguire; the synopsis: “Following a tense night out with friends, Babak [Hossein], Neda [Jafarian] and their infant daughter find themselves spending the night in a hotel. As a malevolent energy torments the family, Babak and Neda’s deeply guarded secrets are summoned from their dark hiding places.”
“Throughout Iran’s cinema history,” Ahari says in a statement, “the horror genre has never been celebrated as a new horizon to craft unique, original narratives that satisfy the desire of its large audience. As a psychological horror genre fan myself, I always craved to see an elevated horror in Farsi, deeply grounded in real life. Blessed to find myself in the art, I decided to explore the genre and welcome the challenge of creating one.
“THE NIGHT is a brew of my fascination with human psychology married with my curiosity of an unknown world, which we all may have experienced one way or the other. Our story approaches a very complex yet common human condition, the fear of our darkest secrets being revealed. My co-writer Milad Jarmooz and I decided to elevate this often buried fear of human beings to the surface and shape it as the driving force of terror in our story. THE NIGHT at its core is a psychological thriller that gradually dives into the world of horror as the secrets of its two main characters are permitted to come out of hiding and take form, confining the couple with their one-year-old in an eerie old hotel. The night will not end until they confront the truth within themselves.
“The story and themes of THE NIGHT are profoundly universal and current, allowing the audience to instantaneously relate to the movie. Although the language spoken in THE NIGHT is primarily Farsi, the dominating visual storytelling dimension allows you to overcome the subtitles and become absorbed in the film. While you might find resemblance to some of the iconic horror genre films, throughout the development of the story, we kept reminding ourselves that the legends had already mastered the haunted-hotel story. We are greatly inspired by them, but nonetheless, we are not in the attempt of walking the same path, so don’t let this creepy hotel fool you; look for the signs and pay attention to everything. That’s not to say, you wouldn’t feel like not wanting to stay at a hotel after viewing THE NIGHT.”