It Comes at Night (2017) Review
Houston native and Krisha director Trey Edward Schults has returned with the psychological horror film It Comes at Night. Starring Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott (A Most Violent Year), Carmen Ejogo (Alien: Covenant), Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road), and Kelvin Harrison Jr (The Birth of a Nation), It Comes at Night has a worldwide epidemic wiping out the world’s population at its core. Paul (Edgerton) along with his wife Sarah (Ejogo) and 17-year-old son Travis (Harrison Jr) have boarded up and secured their home from the outside world to prevent whatever is out there from ever getting in.
Paul and his family reluctantly invite another family into their sanctuary; Will (Abbott), Kim (Keough), and their young son Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner). The two families coexist and cooperate with each other for a brief amount of time, but it doesn’t take long for suspicion to trigger full blown paranoia. The horrors occurring in Paul’s home suddenly become more threatening than the plague eating away the outside world.
The horrors of It Comes at Night echo and haunt you over the opening credits as you hear the sickening sound of unhealthy, strained, and heavy breathing greet you into what is a tainted and unclean world. A family, whom you have yet to meet, clad in gas masks and armed with rifles and shotguns, wheels an elderly man into the middle of a forest where a grave is already dug. The elderly man is shot in the head and dumped in the dirt ridden hole where he’s covered in gasoline and burned to ash. This is what everyday life for Paul’s family has become.
Paul and his family are completely isolated from everything else. Out in the middle of the country, they are essentially on their own little island surrounded by nothing but trees and wilderness where the harms of the infected outsiders only have the ability to harm them once the sun goes down. It Comes at Night takes the old school approach to terrifying the audience as what isn’t shown is far scarier than what is actually shown on screen. Travis is plagued with insomnia, but when he does dream he has these demented yet vivid nightmares that are just unsettling enough to keep you intrigued.
Visually, It Comes at Night succumbs to darkness on a regular basis with only the eerie glow of a battery operated lantern as the sole lifeline between seeing in the dark and total blindness. This causes simple things like a locked red door being left open and a dog sprinting out into the middle of the woods to be memorable and disconcerting due to the lighting (or lack thereof) and camera placement. Meanwhile Brian McOmber’s score packs a powerful punch often sounding fuzzy or lifted from an 8-bit video game and at other times pounding to this brilliant crescendo that makes your heart race, the hairs on your arms stand on end, and establishes unbelievable tension.
Unfortunately, the strengths of It Comes at Night can also be seen as weaknesses to those who desire definitive conclusions. The film purposely shies away from cut and dry answers to what this infection is or what transpired to send the planet into disarray. The reaction of these six humans is what the film is really about. The threat from the inside Is just as dangerous if not slightly more so than the metaphorical beast demolishing the human race outside. You crave so much more once those end credits role, as well. While this could be seen as being better than wanting the film to end sooner, it also feels like the film doesn’t completely satisfy because of this.
The pure, chaotic tension It Comes at Night is able to tap into along with the sheer panic, unbridled fear, and utter desperation it presents rather effortlessly from start to finish are the exact sensations you wish and hope for while watching The Walking Dead. Horrifically mesmerizing with one hell of an effective score, the main flaw It Comes at Night seems to have is that its 90-minute duration goes by entirely too quickly.