The Night House explained its meaning through an unsettling blend of ghost story and psychological terror — the kind of film that leaves audiences wondering what the ending really means. When it comes to the scare factors in horror movies, there tend to be two basic types. The first, which is often what Hollywood studios go with, mostly relies on jump scares to startle the audience and keep them on their toes. With The Night House explained, the second is when a horror movie takes a more cerebral approach, building its scares up slowly, and going for creeping out the viewer over startling them.
Most of The Night House is designed to unsettle and disturb. In some ways, the first act feels almost like a classic Ed and Lorraine Warren-type ghost story, but as more secrets are revealed, things take a sharp left turn into the occult and the potentially horrifying reality of what happens after death. Befitting its more psychological horror bent, The Night House‘s story, and its ending, are open to multiple interpretations. There’s a literal way of looking at things and more symbolic interpretations of what the plot and characters are meant to convey. Either way one looks at it, The Night House explained little of its secrets.
What Happens in The Night House’s Ending
The Night House explained that Owen, has suddenly committed suicide, with his wife Beth (Passing’s Rebecca Hall) trying to pick up the pieces of her life as best she can. As the movie goes on, it’s revealed that Owen had a double life that involved him wooing and murdering women who resemble Beth in a house across the lake that’s a mirrored version of their home. However, he did this due to a mysterious creature dubbed Nothing, who Rebecca encountered when she briefly died after an accident as a teenager. She didn’t remember anything on the other side — but as The Night House explained, she was wrong.
The Nothing tried to push Owen into murdering Beth, sending her back to the other side, but he refused, killing the other women in an attempt to trick the creature. The Night House explained that its characters are forced to commit terrible acts by otherworldly forces — Owen’s serial killer strategy eventually stopped working, so Owen killed himself instead. The Night House ends with Nothing taking Beth out on the lake in their small boat to get her to replicate Owen’s suicide. She almost gives in, but eventually chooses to live. The movie then goes to credits, leaving it ambiguous whether Beth truly escaped Nothing, or if the entity will try to claim her again in the future.
The Night House Explores The Horrors Of Grief
While the Nothing proves to be a scary and formidable antagonist when one looks at The Night House explained literally, there’s a reality-based monster that truly forms the center of the narrative. The true antagonist isn’t the Nothing but — like many modern horrors such as The Babadook — grief. Few things are certain in life, but one of them is that it will one day end. Dealing with death can be the hardest thing most people ever have to do. That’s even more true when someone loses their spouse, who many see as their other half, their best friend, the person meant to grow old alongside them.
The Night House explained Beth is not handling her husband’s suicide well. It lends credence to the idea that her friends would doubt her story about a potential haunting. It’s grief that drives Beth’s quest to dig further into her husband’s secrets, despite being warned away from doing so. Each revelation makes things worse. Beth can’t stand the thought that her husband has not only left her but done so without telling her the whole truth. Like many of the best horror movies, grief essentially drives the story, and while ghosts, demons, and the Nothing might not be a real-life threat, grief will be for everyone someday.
What The Nothing Really Is
Anyone who prefers horror movie endings to tie things up in a neat bow left The Night House disappointed. Truthfully, The Night House explained little. One unanswered question is what the Nothing that so desperately wants to reclaim Beth remains really is. It’s possible the creature is Death itself, but it seems odd Death would become obsessed with a particular person. Nothing could be a demon, but where it takes Beth at the end, a red-lit, dual-mooned dark inversion of the real lake, doesn’t seem to be Hell. If anything, the barren place seems like some sort of purgatory between life and the afterlife.
This idea is supported by the fact that when Beth asks Nothing where her husband is. It responds Owen has gone somewhere else. Whether that’s Heaven, Hell, or something not tied to traditional Christian theology is unclear, but his soul isn’t there. That makes it most likely that the Nothing — so named because Beth said she saw “nothing” while she was dead, with Owen putting in his suicide note that “nothing” was after Beth — is something that resides in this void between worlds. Something about Beth attracts its desire.
What The Night House Ending Really Means
While it’s interesting to speculate about what the Nothing might be, there seems to be a hidden message attached to The Night House ending, one that doesn’t even really need to acknowledge anything supernatural in order to work. The Night House explained that Beth begins the movie in the throes of grief, and as mentioned previously, it’s the grief that drives her onward toward the truth. It’s also grief that the Nothing tries to use to get her back, with her believing for some time that the “spirit” visiting her is actually Owen’s.
As sad as it is, many people prove incapable of withstanding the onslaught of grief, and shut down emotionally, or even worse, take their own life out of despair. The Night House ending sequence with the Nothing and Beth on the boat, with it trying to convince her to shoot herself, functions as a metaphor for this battle against letting grief take full hold of one’s mind. The Nothing is an embodiment of grief, and it’s telling Beth there’s no point in going on without her husband. In the end, Beth decides not to kill herself. Of course, one wonders what happens to the bodies of Owen’s victims now.
How Director David Bruckner Explains The Night House
Though The Night House explained little of its ending’s meaning and left Beth’s fate somewhat ambiguous, director David Bruckner opened up about the making of the film to The Playlist while in the throes of creating the Hellraiser reboot and revealed some key information. Funnily enough, Bruckner believed there were a lot of tonal and thematic similarities between The Night House and Hellraiser. Namely, screenwriters Ben Collins and Luke Piotrowski took inspiration from the Hellraiser draft, with Bruckner stating, “There’s a certain synergy between all these ideas, and there’s a mind-bending quality to The Night House that translates well to Hellraiser.”
Many of David Bruckner’s horror movies contain this thread of logic in which there’s something sinister on the other side beckoning back to the living, and as The Night House explained its meaning it’s clear this film is no exception. Bruckner admitted that The Night House script tapped into something within himself that was unresolved: confronting nothingness and the essence of meaning. “This character is reckoning with meaninglessness in a way that is real, and spoken about in the film with such stark frankness by Beth. I was troubled by the script after reading it. And over time, I realized that really had to be a reason to make it,” Bruckner said.
This questioning of meaning and reality is shown through the ever-changing architecture in The Night House. Bruckner stated that mapping the geography of a home is a great metaphor for the annals of the mind. In terms of how this played out in The Night House, Bruckner had this to say: “the idyllic picture of the house, as constructed by Beth’s late husband, was a fix for some of their difficulties and emotional issues that they had faced. In some ways, this was supposed to be something that saved them from themselves. And, of course, they encounter the inverse version of it.”
Will The Night House Get A Sequel
With The Night House being either a ghost story or a metaphor for grief, a sequel seems unnecessary. While the idea of creating horror sequels is always there for studios, especially when a movie ends up a success at the box office, some don’t need to bother. This is not a gore-heavy horror movie. As a story, this movie stands on its own well. Sure, there could be more with Beth and the Nothing in the future, but the ending of this movie makes that seem uninspired. Why go back on her making the strong decision to go on living?
Even more important is the idea that The Night House explained — it was about overcoming grief. When Beth decided she was not going to take her own life, she chose to live. She beat the Nothing and moved on with her life. The Night House is a personal story about a woman dealing with loss and depression. This movie doesn’t need a follow-up, and there is no sign that the studio plans to follow through with a sequel.
Other Horror Movies That Turned Negative Emotions Into Monsters
Like from The Night House, many recent horror movies — such as Ti West’s Pearl — prefer crafting villains that exemplify emotions. Monsters made tangible like grief, envy, stress, and anger illustrate the power of storytelling. The Babadook shows the personification of a woman’s grief over her husband’s death. If she ignores the grieving process, it will consume her. In Titane, while Alexia functions as both the hero and villain, the film additionally explores how much grief and desperation can color someone’s perspective. The Night House explained something similar.
Hereditary and Midsommar feature people navigating the horrors of losing loved ones. Dani in Midsommar needs to grapple with a cheating boyfriend, and her intense feelings of betrayal dictate her character arc. In the end, she’s delighted to watch her ex burn alive. Hereditary shows the impact of a sudden, tragic loss on a family dynamic, tying supernatural and cult elements to a spiraling sense of helplessness. Sometimes, the most horrifying monsters live inside the mind, and The Night House explained that perfectly.