The Overnight — like writer-director Patrick Brice’s Creep — is a clever 80-minute game with a punchline ending. Though working within different genre frameworks (Creep is a set-in-the-woods thriller, The Overnight a sex comedy), the films share a narrative template: A hapless person(s) is welcomed into the seductive home of a new acquaintance, only to discover an ulterior motive beneath the host’s surface charm.
In Creep, Brice himself played the in-over-his-head guest to Mark Duplass’s mysterious Craigslist employer. In The Overnight, Adam Scott and Taylor Schilling star as stay-at-home dad Alex and working mom Emily, who have moved from Seattle to Los Angeles with their toddler son. Their boxes still unpacked, the two lament over not having any friends in the area — a prayer that is instantly answered one afternoon in the park when stranger Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) invites them over for pizza.
Upon Alex and Emily’s arrival at his gated residence, Kurt introduces them to his French wife (Judith Godrèche) and — after putting the kids to sleep with a piano lullaby — shows them around the house. There’s a luscious living room (where Kurt exhibits his sizable bong), an artistic refuge (where Kurt paints pieces inspired by photographs of buttholes), and an outdoor swimming pool (cue the prosthetic penises, which have been a headline-grabber since the film hit Sundance).
Though an accomplished farce, The Overnight is most interesting when confronting its genuine emotional stakes, as in a dead-serious bathroom argument between Scott and Schilling. Elsewhere, the movie gets by on its clean delivery of jokes: Brice, removed from the frightening found-footage format of Creep, needs only to sit back and let his actors excel in their comfort zones.
Written and directed by Patrick Brice
Opens June 19