Movie Review: It Comes at Night (2017)

Title: It Comes at Night

Director: Trey Edward Shults

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr.

Rating: A-

Recommended? Yes

Genre: Thriller

Watched On: Netflix DVD


   In the wake of a terrifying pandemic, a family isolates themselves from the rest of the world and hides in their secluded cabin, leading lives of fear and uncertainty. The patriarch, Paul (Joel Edgerton,) soon makes it clear that he will do anything to protect his family, but in a moment of compassion (or weakness) he lets a family of outsiders. At first Paul’s family enjoys the reprieve from loneliness, but soon tensions rise and the two families become increasingly paranoid and frustrated, leading to mounting suspicions that one of the people among them might be infected.

 

It Comes at Night is not a popcorn flick; it is a beautifully shot but distressing and bleak film in which little hope is offered or given. The performances are outstanding all around, especially by Joel Edgerton as Paul and Kelvin Harrison Jr., who plays Paul’s teenage son, Travis. Some viewers are sure to be frustrated by the film’s ambiguous ending, which is sure to spark discussion among audiences, but the eerie, puzzling conclusion ultimately fit the film well, if you don’t mind endings that a little less straightforward than your average fare, and leave a lot of room for debate as to their true meaning.

 

Haunting cinematography, eerie tracking shots, and an overall sense of escalating tension make It Comes at Night a more thoughtful, cerebral horror movie than most of the clichéd fright films that are popular today, the characters didn’t have a great deal of development but I thought that suited the movie’s general air of mystery and suspicion. Instead of focusing on the past, like exactly how the pandemic started, It Comes at Night focuses on the mounting sense of disorientation and helplessness, leading to a unsettling moviegoing experience.

 

After seeing Joel Edgerton in films like Animal Kingdom and The Gift, I was well aware of both his talent as an actor and his aptitude for playing in some very dark films, but I wasn’t familiar with any of the other actors, who all proved to be very impressive in their roles. It Comes at Night starts with a bang and doesn’t let up until the closing credits. I was sucked into the world of the film right away and I left contemplating the meaning of the ending, but instead of being annoyed by the ambiguity of the conclusion I was left riveted, if emotionally drained, by what I had just seen. It Comes at Night is not for everybody, but it truly adds something different to the apocalyptic drama, choosing to portray the catastrophe on a smaller, more intimate scale rather than a grandly dramatic one. I recommend it to viewers who have a taste for indie films that are fiercely original but might not appeal to larger audiences.

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