It Comes At Night Review (2017)

Spoiler-free so you can read before you watch

It Comes At Night Review (2017)

Horrorific content by adrian on November 19th, 2018 | Movie Review | A24, Phobia, Madness, Thriller, Desolate

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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.

It Comes At Night was directed by Trey Edward Shults  and stars Joel Edgerton (from The Gift), Christopher Abbott  and Carmen Ejogo (from Alien: Covenant).

Fear Turns Men Into Monsters

It Comes At Night Review

If you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic horror-thrillers and you haven’t seen It Comes at Night yet, the chances are pretty good that it’s already somewhere on your to-see list and with good reason.

After its premiere at 2017’s Overlook Film Festival and its subsequent theatrical release later that same year, it received an overwhelmingly positive response, especially among genre fans. However, don’t let the title fool you. Although It Comes at Night sounds like a title you’d give a straight-up horror film, what you get is actually something much deeper than that – a masterpiece that spans multiple genres, including psychological thriller.

The plotline plays out in a world ravaged by the aftereffects of a massively contagious outbreak. (In fact, the very first scene sets the tone for what you’re about to see with a mysterious and very intriguing death.) The disease in question is the type of ailment that kills you quickly and – from the looks of it – painfully. Such a disease definitely has the power to change the course of a survivor’s life by way of fear, foreboding, and mistrust – exactly what we watch happen to patriarch Paul (Edgerton) and his family. But will this family ultimately be able to survive in this bleak new world… and if so, at what cost?

It Comes at Night doesn’t rely on scary monsters or things that go bump in the night to unsettle you or keep you biting your nails literally from start to finish. The real adversaries here are tough, ambiguous concepts we’re all familiar with to one degree or another – grief, emotional pain, profound loss, and other similar internal boogeymen. No zombies, no witchcraft, no ghosts – just terrifying, confusing states of being that potentially live within all of us (much like disease-causing pathogens).

Part of what differentiates a horror film that really works from one that doesn’t is the way critical pieces of information are dealt out to the audience. Shults is a genius as far as how he goes about this. Shults and cinematographer Drew Daniels also make a wonderful team when it comes to the atmosphere they’ve created here. The use of lighting is especially noteworthy. Whether we’re watching a scene play out under the soft glow of a lantern, the stinging flood of a flashlight, or the naturally diffused glow of the sun through the trees, the lighting choice is always a great fit that really adds to the mood.

The performances here are absolutely worthy of this production as well. Christopher Abbott is particularly captivating as outsider, Will. You’ll also want to keep your eyes on young Kelvin Harrison, Jr. as Paul and Sarah’s son, Travis. In many ways, his character is something of a touchstone for the audience. As the audience, we typically only know as much as Travis knows at any given time – an interesting way to experience such a film, considering Travis is only 17. Because of this, It Comes at Night is as much about the terror and apprehensiveness of growing up as it is about anything else.

Worth Watching?

Overall, this is a real gem of a film – a fresh take on the “demons within” themes expertly tackled by such greats as Kubrick or Carpenter in better known horror classics. It definitely keeps you guessing, dreading, and wondering, as any good story from this genre ought to do.

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