Going into It Comes At Night, I had little knowledge of the film, what it was about, or even who was in it, other than Joel Edgerton. I had not seen many previews of the film, other than a few clips on some of the social media outlets.
I thought it was best that I went into this movie with an open mind, without any outside influence to sway my judgement of the movie.
I’m glad I did because the trailers, what I saw of them anyway, really make this movies seem like a horror film when it is anything but. Now having seen the trailers after seeing the movie, I think I would have been pissed had I went in to it thinking it was a horror movie, when in actuality, it was a tale of survival in a world that has ended.
Joel Edgerton plays Paul, a dominating man who has locked he, his wife Sarah, (Carman Ejogo) and son Travis, (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) away in their remote home in the middle of nowhere as the rest of the world falls victim to an unknown illness.
The film starts off with Travis’ grandfather, who has come down with this mysterious sickness that looks a lot like the Bubonic Plague; sores and blisters cover the man’s skin. Unable to do anything to help the man; he’s already on death doorstep, Paul and Travis take him out of the home (they have to wear masks and gloves around the infected or risk becoming infected themselves) and kill him. To help stop the spread of disease, they burn the body and bury it.
Shaken and rattled the family comes together that night, trying to stay strong, trying to survive the hardship of this new life.
That night Travis begins to have nightmares that something is trying to break into their home. When he comes to, he finds that his nightmare wasn’t just a nightmare, but reality when he’s suddenly woken up by Paul telling him there was someone in their home.
Scared and afraid that whoever is in their home is there to bring harm to them, the family rushes into action and ends up finding, Will (Christopher Abbot) in their house. He tries to tell them it was a mistake, but Paul, not taking any chances in fear for himself and his family’s safety, knocks Will out and ties him up to a tree, stripped of his clothes and shoes.
The next day, Paul questions Will and threatens to kill him if he thinks he’s lying. Will tells Paul that he was out looking for food and water, and that he left his wife and child to find supplies because they were running low. Will stumbled upon the house, and thinking that it was abandoned, he decided to break in. He also tells Paul that they have food: chickens, goats, and some canned goods that he was willing to share for some water.
Is Will telling the truth?
It Comes At Night is a story about the survival in trust. When trust is broken, in a dire situation, everything can come unraveled in a matter of seconds.
And that is exactly what happens.
The film was directed by Trey Edward Shults. Shults does a good job a balancing the tension between what is going on in the outside world (because there is something going on outside of the house, but we never get to know what it is; though it’s hinted at) and what is going on inside the house with the characters. He never really lets you in on who is, or is not, infected, nor how and when they become infected and what it can do to them – though again it is hinted at throughout the film.
What really stood out to me was the heavy, foreboding atmosphere of It Comes At Night and it’s fantastic cinematography. Most of the night scenes were lit with just lamps, giving those scenes this eerie oily look that made you wonder what was hiding in the shadows of our characters and maybe the outside world beyond the house in the woods – was there something supernatural going on?
There are only a handful of characters in the movie and because of this we are given a chance to get to know them and how they are going to try and survive this hellish new world, and each other. This is something else that Shults and the script does well; the characters are human, they have faults, good traits and bad, no one in the movie is perfect, which makes them all the more human when they are forced to act in the end – good or bad, their decisions are on their shoulders.
The film offers little in the way of hope. It is a downbeat and somewhat depressing movie about the horrors of surviving at all costs. There is no ray of sunshine to be found here and it is one thing that I really liked about It Comes At Night. Very rarely do we get a movie that makes you question how you would act if put in to a similar situation, and the consequences of those actions.
I really enjoyed Brian McOmber’s ominous, haunting score; it helped build the tension, drama and action in the movie well and seemed to fit perfectly in the setting of the film. It is a score worth checking out if you like ominous music, and can be listened to by itself, and enjoyed, without having to have seen the movie.
If you are going out this weekend to check out It Comes At Night, understand that you are not going to see a horror movie; you are seeing a movie about people trying to survive at all costs.
8 out of 10 stars.