It begins with a close-up shot of an elderly man, struggling to breathe, and dying from some form of virus on his body. He is the father of Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), grandfather of Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), and since he has become infected with something, father Paul (Joel Edgerton) and his son take the old man into the woods on a wheel barrow, like a dying dog, they dispose of him. This is a family that takes extra precaution for their survival. They wear gas masks and because they can't take the risk of the infection spreading, they shoot the grandfather, and burn his body. This is a morbid, bleak world, and not the place to worry about feelings. We only notice from afar, but the forrest outside their small home is coming to an end. Meanwhile, this family is deteriorating on the inside.
At the center of It Comes At Night is this concept of family. Travis does not entirely get along with his father. He is a young teen wishing he could find some freedom, while Sarah is a loyal wife, committed and willing to go along with her husbands wishes, and desperate to keep what's left of their happiness in tact. One night, a man by the name of Will (Christopher Abbott), breaks into their home, looking for supplies for survival. He becomes the families hostage, where he's tied to a tree, till his story checks out. They finally let him go and allow him to get his wife (Riley Keough) and child safely to join the rest of the family. Both parties involved have trepidations, where we are never sure who to trust or what might be happening under the surface. They chop wood, tell stories by candles, and come together for meals, but there's never a true bond, as the unspoken fears fester deep down.
Edward Shults is not interested in scaring us in a “gotcha way”, he is trying to suck the fears from the inside of his audience, using an intensifying and haunting score. The cinematography of Drew Daniels uses natural light, narrow hallways, hand-held tracking shots, and total darkness to unsettle our mood. It's this fantastic combination that places us right into these moments, always wondering who can we trust? What is lurking outside that door? The scares come in multiple ways. The banging of a door, a dog barking at nothing, or often in scenes of horrific nightmares that reside in Travis' brain. Or are they nightmares? Hell, I wasn't even entirely sure what all of the madness truly meant. There is a lot left here for interpretation, I don't want to ruin anything by giving my entire thoughts, but let's just say, sometimes the real fear is fear itself.
It Comes at Night is not the typical horror movie that everyone will be expecting, I can already envision the disagreeing opinions on message boards. In the end, it will come down to what you think your eyes are seeing. You may think there is a demon involved, you may even believe that the things going bump in the night are the people inside the home. These are just some of the many great reasons to appreciate this film. It's not just a horror film, this is something that keeps you constantly looking back, always wondering, what was that thing that is now keeping you up? Whatever it is, It Comes At Night.
3 ½ STARS
Written by: Leo Brady
MOVIE: IT COMES AT NIGHT
STARRING: JOEL EDGERTON; CARMEN EJOGO; CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT; RILEY KEOUGH
DIRECTED BY: TREY EDWARD SHULTS
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 ½ STARS (Out of 4)
We are living in a golden age of horror films. Many of them scare us in psychological ways, shaking us down to the core of our being, because we live in such scary times. 2016's The Witch dealt with demonic possession and how religious commitment could destroy a family. The Babadook displayed the depths a mother would go to protect her child. It Follows revealed the horrors of our past mistakes haunting us forever. And Don't Breathe told us not to mess with the wrong persons house. Now, comes the arrival of It Comes At Night, a film with multiple layers, set in a disease ridden post-apocalyptic world, that deals with the matter of how paranoia can attack us from the inside out. The revelation that will shock audiences are the horrors that human beings can be capable of. Director Trey Edward Shults, whose 2016 indie-hit Krisha, which was another film of psychological terror, follows up that success with one of the best movies of 2017, and an absolutely terrifying one at that.