It Comes at Night
Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Christopher Abbott
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It Comes At Night is a slow-burn family drama with thriller moments and a tone more in keeping with apocalyptic feel-bad flick, The Road.
Your enjoyment of It Comes At Night is dependent on one key factor: expectation. Have you seen the creepy, old school horror-style trailer? Have you read the gushing buzz from film festival screenings calling it the “next big thing” in genre cinema? If so, there’s a good chance you won’t enjoy It Comes At Night, despite it being an extremely effective movie. You see, It Comes At Night is being sold as a pulse-pounding, edge-of-your-seat horror flick and that’s simply not the case.
The truth of the matter is, It Comes At Night is a slow-burn family drama with thriller moments and a tone more in keeping with apocalyptic feel-bad flick, The Road. The good news is it’s a very good example of that subgenre.
The story focuses on a small family comprised of father, Paul (Joel Edgerton), mother, Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and son, Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who live in a well-fortified house at the edge of thick, imposing woods. The world has been beset by some kind of extremely contagious disease – the effects of which we see in a grisly opening sequence – and hunger, paranoia and desperation hang thick in the air. One night a stranger, Will (Christopher Abbott) breaks into the house and so begins a tale of distrust and tragedy, moodily directed by Trey Edward Shults (Krisha).
Everyone in It Comes At Night does stellar work. Joel Edgerton in particular delivers one of his best performances as a dad who will do anything to protect his family. Christopher Abbott is also wonderfully effective as the stranger we’re not sure we can trust. The shadowy lighting, the score, and spare cinematography are all effective in creating a genuinely unsettling air of tension.
Ultimately, though, the film is a little lacking in the subtext department. This is a straightforward story about the lengths people will go to while protecting their kin, which is well-trodden territory, and at times feels like The Road in a house. If that kind of existential drama sounds like your jam, you’ll likely have a good (read: profoundly depressing) time with It Comes At Night. Just don’t go expecting the horror-thriller implied by the trailers and title, otherwise you might walk away disappointed. Frankly, the scariest thing about It Comes at Night is its marketing.