Movie Review: ‘It Comes At Night’ is terrifying and masterfully crafted
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Writers: Trey Edward Shults
Stars: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough
Synopsis: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.
I’ll be honest; initially after seeing It Comes At Night I was perplexed at what I saw and was unsure of what to make of it. The film weighed on me all night, and after wrestling with it for awhile, things became apparent. Trey Edward Shults has created an experience that will cause nightmares. If Shults does not cause your mind fear, then you must have skipped out on Krisha last year. Shults’ style latches onto our emotions like a vise grip, and in It Comes At Night the grip is tightening.
It Comes At Night is one of those rare movies that will make you ask questions about what was going on, and you’re never exactly sure where it’s going to go. It’s a testament to Schults’ style that varying opinions will come from this film. It Comes At Night is not only a viscerally gripping horror film aesthetically, but an astounding character study that touches on different emotional and physical psyches of a person facing the end of civilization. The varying perspectives offer an extensive look into the dark recesses of our minds where we start to question the every action in the film.
Travis (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) lives with lives in a secured and heavily armed home with his parents Paul and Sarah (Joel Edgerton and Carmen Ejogo.) The opening sequence is fantastic and shows the great lengths Paul is willing to go through to protect his family. The film plays out like most movies in this setting; we see the day-to-day life of this family, and with the limited dialogue between them all we can feel the tension start to creep into our skin. One terrifying night things start change and eventually it leads them into meeting another young family. The addition to the household adds more paranoia and pairing that with an eerie score makes things interesting.
The Red Door is featured heavily in the promotion of this film and rightfully so as it’s the only way in and out of this boarded up house. Most of the intense scenes happen in the narrow hallway in front of it. If you’re expecting jump scares or zombies, you will be disappointed. In terms of pace and character, It Comes At Night is more in line with The Witch – another A24 horror film – that relies on gripping tension that methodically builds over the course of the film.
Without spoiling too much, the film is at its most visceral in nightmare sequences that frequently appear throughout the film. These dreams have a different feel and look to them to distinguish them from the main story. It’s the paranoia manifesting itself in Travis’ real-life that makes those scenes uncomfortable to watch.
Taking place in the woods is scary enough, Schults ups the ante by having light coming from lanterns or lights mounted to guns. The barely illuminated scenes will constantly have you peeking into the darkness wondering what’s going to happen next.
What lengths are you willing to go to protect your family? Not giving us much about the characters pays off for Schults in the second act. There is an event happens that causes a rift between the two families; whose side do we believe? The questions this film raises and how it forces these characters to react is quite fascinating.
It Comes At Night is another masterpiece for A24 and one that puts Trey Edward Schults as a major player in this genre.
Overall Grade: A
Hear our podcast review on Episode 225, coming soon.