Movie Review: It Comes at Night – Or Does It?

It Comes at Night Poster.jpg

Genre: Thriller/Mystery

Director: Trey Edward Shults

Running Time: 91 Minutes

“From the writer and director of shorts.”

– TropicalMary

The Plot

Something has happened. Something big and life changing. The viewer doesn’t know what exactly, only that there is a disease that his highly communicable and kills fast. Paul (Joel Edgerton) and his family live a contained and regimented life in their cabin in the woods, where security is paramount. They subsist and hunt for their meals, and look out for each other. Until a strange shows up and breaks in. Initially, Joel and his wife, Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), aren’t sure what to do with the man. After listening to his story and his plea for help, Joel decides to help Will (Christopher Abbott). They fetch Will’s family and the two groups live in Joel and Sarah’s house.

It is at this time that Joel’s behaviour starts to seem strange and his son, Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), starts suffering nightmares where his recently deceased grandfather features very heavily. Soon, the families start to turn on each other, where doubt feeds their paranoia.

It Comes at Night - red door.jpg

Performances & Special Effects

Edgerton and Harrison gave very powerful performances, especially as a father/son duo. Paul needs to tow the fine line between stern and authoritarian, with a teenage son who has very little interaction with the outside world.  I was more impressed by the calibre of acting in this film than I expected to be. Harrison is a young man grieving and having no outlet for that grief. His only friend is his dog.

This isn’t an action film, filled with zombies or any other apocalyptic, dystopian beings. So the SFX were simple but highly effective. The primary vehicle for maintaining the ambience of the film was the creative use of camera angles and the general cinematography. The house was clearly meant to be large enough to house 6 people but the use of specific angles and the colour scheme or the interior gave the film a very claustrophobic feel. The viewer is unable to fully grasp the layout of the house because there are never transitions from one part of the house into another (e.g. a continuous tracking shot following a character from the kitchen to a bedroom).

It Comes at Night - Paul & Travis.jpg

The Review

The most important thing that any viewer needs to know is that you absolutely cannot expect what the trailer for this film was advertising. The trailer made the movie seem high-octane, full-tilt, horror/thriller. This is a very much a slow burn psychological horror. Also, the name of the film, when coupled with the trailer, makes it seem like there is a physical something that ‘comes at night’, like the undead, zombies, a monster, etc. This is not the case. This is a bit of a spoiler but I think that this fact will definitely make more people appreciate the subtlety of the film, rather than hate is for false advertising.

It Comes at Night - Paul.jpg

I was not at all keen to watch this movie, initially, because A24 can be a little hit and miss with their films. I was pleasantly surprised but the story, the acting and the set design. I was riveted, and wasn’t entirely sure of what to expect while the film progressed. The director was able to capture human nature, and self-doubt rather poignantly. Especially in the final scenes of the film. We like to separate ourselves form other animals and nature, but when humans feel trapped, threatened or scared, we all react in the same way that any other animal does. We revert to our basic and basal instincts.

If you enjoy a slow-burn thriller, definitely give it a watch. If you are hoping for jump scares and gore, you will be sorely disappointed.

My rating: 3/5

Buy or rent It Comes at Night on Amazon.

You might like:

It Follows

The Babadook

The VVitch

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