When did the horror of a double-booked vacation rental become a thing? It is the hook for two new releases, “Barbarian,” premiering later this month, and “Gone in the Night,” directed by Eli Horowitz and starring Winona Ryder and Dermot Mulroney. In Horowitz’s deft thriller (co-written with Matthew Derby), Ryder plays Kath, whose younger lover, Max (John Gallagher Jr.), disappears into that titular night.
As they pull into a secluded cabin, it’s clear someone else is already there — another, younger couple. Were any of us met with the aggressive disdain Al (Owen Teague) shows the pair, we’d hop back into our vintage Volvo and high-tail it home, dark roads be damned. But no. After some prickly negotiating facilitated by Al’s girlfriend, Greta (Brianne Tju digging deep into the guile), Kath and Max stay. Soon enough, things turn frisky and weird. As the adult in the room (aging is a theme), Kath heads to bed. When she awakes, she learns from a sullen Al that Max and Greta are gone.
After being stung, then furious, Kath starts to wonder how this abandonment could have happened. Her need to know leads her to the cabin’s owner, Barlow (an attractively grizzled Mulroney). They make a likable pair as they set out to solve the mystery of a jilting. Twists galore follow, the torque of which surprises again and again. In an amusing feint at the frenzied finale, the filmmakers leap, with the help of Ryder’s nuance and aplomb, from one contemporary fable to another, also born out of culturally shaped cravings.