A24 has done it again! The film distributor that has successfully released quality, unique films recently such as Moonlight, Room and The Lobster has just released its latest project, It Comes At Night. Exactly like the other aforementioned films, this one also is looking to achieve greatness while going against the grain of its contemporaries. If you love scary movies in the traditional form, where a concrete evil terrorizes a defenseless person or family until the demonic figure is stopped, then It Comes At Night is a movie you may want to skip. However, if you appreciate brilliant, new-age horror filmmaking, then this movie is an absolute must-see. I normally wait until further down the review to begin showing my hand, but this movie has me all hyped up. So with that, I’ll tell you that I believe that It Comes At Night is one of the most cerebral horror films that has come out in quite some time.
I was excited about this movie since I first saw a trailer for it this past winter. The trailer was enticing because it left me still wanting more. It was so intriguing because the uncertainty of the plot wasn’t caused by confusion, but rather by intense curiosity. I dig that…a lot. I appreciate when trailers trigger my curiosity. I hate when a trailer shows me all the exciting parts, or funniest/scariest scenes in the movie. If a film can get me excited, while keeping a figurative blindfold over my eyes, then I’m all in. That’s what the initial trailer for It Comes At Night did for me, and the movie itself elicits the same feelings through its full 91-minute duration.
It Comes At Night is a much deeper movie than it appears to be on the surface. Because of this, I can see this movie being very polarizing and opinions being very wide-spread. Honestly, I can see a good amount of casual moviegoers who are looking for a screamfest winding up disappointed. I can see that person saying it is slow at times and consequently unfulfilling. However, if you are someone who likes to be challenged by both your eyes and your mind, and love to read between blurred lines, then I think you’ll leave the theater very satisfied.
The movie stars Joel Edgerton as Paul, a father and husband who is trying to survive in a world that has been attacked by an unknown biological threat. He lives in isolation with his wife and son as a result. Their lives would change, though, once they meet another young family who seeks shelter.
One thing I actually didn’t care for about this movie was the fact that I felt like I was watching The Walking Dead at times. While I am a big fan of the series, I wanted to see this new, damned world through a different scope in Paul’s world on the big screen versus Rick’s when I watch the show on AMC. From the unknown apocalyptic virus, to the living in a wooded area of isolation, to triggering an internal debate as a viewer on whether or not to trust the new family that’s brought into the picture, the parallels between the two were obvious.
Let’s be clear though, that caused the movie to take a small hit for me due to lack of originality, not quality. Both It Comes At Night and The Walking Dead still manage to create a new canvas to display the art of their genre in their respective platforms and add incredible character and plot depth unlike the majority of their predecessors.
I was really impressed by the direction of Trey Edward Shults. I never heard of him before seeing this movie, but he definitely has my attention going forward. Shults created such a haunting film that’s even darker emotionally than it is literally (and its very dark literally). The darkness adds to the unknown and masterfully embeds anxiety into not only the characters, but the audience as well.
Shults also wrote a keen screenplay, and the cast, led by Edgerton, delivered authentic performances that seamlessly complimented the script. Without giving much away, one of the biggest positives I took from this film was the fact that the fear invoked from it was not caused by a visible entity, but rather the unknown itself. It’s so hard to write a screenplay that makes an audience afraid of something totally unknown from start to finish, but Shults manages to pull it off.
I probably would categorize It as more suspense than horror in the sense that you may not find yourself screaming at the screen from any scene, but you will find the events of the film to be horrific. It’s a “don’t trust anybody” tale with an unknown entity as the instigator, and a subtle but chilling ending that sort of took me back to No Country For Old Men. The true victory in It Comes At Night, though, is the fact that the “it’ in the title can be anything you believe “it” is. It can be fear. It can be temptation. It can be suspicion. It can be evil. But in the case of this film and this review, It was a success.
MATTER RATING: 8/10
BY: CHRIS GUEST