Upon seeing this film a few months back, I had no prior knowledge of the synopsis. It can be very gratifying when delving blindly into a movie, leaving your expectations to be a blank slate. IT COMES AT NIGHT is a movie that I am grateful for having done so, as writer/director Trey Edward Shults delivers a unique piece of art, and one that will leave its audience feeling shaken and truly saddened.
Set during an apocalyptic era, Paul (Joel Edgerton) reluctantly opens his home to a small family in need of food and shelter. With a flesh-eating disease on the rise, Paul must protect his wife Sarah and son Travis (Carmen Ejogo and Kelvin Harrison Jr.) at all costs while repressing the consumption of fear and not letting paranoia get the better of him and his family. What they think is skulking in the outer darkness may already lie within the confines of their own minds.
I feel that IT COMES AT NIGHT is a very complex and emotional film. Shults plays with many elements here, creating a very frightening and real environment, with a key component being fear. This desolate house that shelters Paul, Sarah, and Travis is barren with nothing but empty memories, nightmares, and death, with only themselves (and the family dog) for comfort. The notion of cabin fever also sets in, which acts as an aid in the character’s decision making skills towards the other family that comes along. The innate ability of kindness towards others is presented beautifully through the character of Travis, with his innocence and sensitivity being the only beacon of light during this dark film. He feels love and trust for these strangers and would sacrifice his well-being for their safety.
Shults also executes tension in the most realistic sense. Through dramatic lighting, great camera work, and the believability portrayed by the cast, the viewer is left feeling on-edge through the film’s most intense sequences. You feel as though you have fallen alongside this family through their fever-induced nightmare, seeing unknown shapes and movements in the darkness as if you were really there. The director’s clear knowledge of professionalism towards filmmaking is made apparent through the quality of this film, and as a whole, It Comes at Night speaks for itself on the big screen.
Though others may disagree, this is a movie that I would put on a top ten horror list for 2017. I very much enjoyed this film and its in-depth approach that ventures into places that other survivalist films have yet to tread. I think what people are expecting from this movie is a monster; a creature that lurks in the darkness. Vague indications may seem to point the viewer in that direction, but your gut tellings are incorrect. The creature is not physical, but a metaphorical one. Paranoia is what lurks in the woods and makes its way inside the mind. It consumes the characters to a point of distrust, confusion, and fear- fear of the flesh-eating disease, and the cut-throat nature of humanity. What comes at night are the ghastly thoughts and feelings that settle inside you, awaiting to consume all rational thought. I highly recommend this film, as the vision presented demonstrates major character growth and unfathomable tough decision making through both families, leaving the viewer with a very realistic sense of terror.
IT COMES AT NIGHT is now available to own on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD from Lionsgate