Santa Barbara International Film Festival 2020 review: The world premiere of ‘The Night’ is as captivating as it is terrifying.

Kourosh Ahari’s THE NIGHT
The Iranian-American Ahari makes a startling feature directorial debut with a stylish psychological thriller about a young couple trapped in a mysterious hotel that hungers for their secrets and may not release them or their child back into the world. The film stars Shahab Hosseini (star of A SEPARATION and THE SALESMAN).

What a knock out world premiere for director Kourosh Ahari. Beautifully lush cinematography (including some early haunting POV shots) props up the richness of The Night. The score adds a layer or jarring dread that is simply gorgeous. While the script skillfully utilizes a number of classic tropes, it is also stacked with a multitude of original imagery that unnerves the viewer from the very beginning. I was thrown for a loop more times than I can count. The heightened sound editing also pushes The Night into next-level scary. The plot will have you questioning your own sanity. Is this a dispute between exhausted new parents? Is this an alcohol-induced hallucination? Or is this hotel housing unwanted guests?

Performances are so strong you will quickly forget that the film is predominantly in Farsi. As Parasite director Boon Jong-Ho so eloquently stated at this year’s Golden Globes, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” This is the most important quote in cinema right now. Kourosh Ahari’s THE NIGHT is a heart-pounding and twisted watch. Santa Barbara International Film Festival is lucky to host its world premiere. This film should be on every genre fan’s radar this year.

WORLD PREMIERE – SATURDAY, JANUARY 18

About Liz Whittemore

Liz grew up in northern Connecticut and was memorizing movie dialogue from Shirley Temple to A Nightmare on Elm Street at a very early age. She will watch just about any film all the way through (no matter how bad) just to prove a point. A loyal New Englander, a lover of Hollywood, and true inhabitant of The Big Apple.