Just when you think the horror genre is dead, the A24 studio releases a soon to be classic. Last year, they did the same thing with The Witch. It Comes At Night is 2017’s “The Witch” in the sense that it has the potential to become a horror classic as it ages. There are a few problems with the film, but overall there is plenty to like. It Comes At Night is a real slow burning character driven movie that grabs you instantly and doesn’t let go.
“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.”
The best aspect of It Comes At Night are the characters. It is a very small cast, but strong performances from Joel Edgerton (The Gift) and Christopher Abbot (Whiskey Tango Foxtrot) make the characters likable, memorable, and mysterious. Edgerton plays Paul, a man that is hiding out with his family in their boarded up home. They have a very specific set of rules that they follow in order to stay undetected from the unnatural threat that is plaguing the country. This is all put in jeopardy when Will arrives and breaks in, claiming he is looking for water for his wife and son. The movie does a great job of making the audience want to believe that Will has good intentions, but does he? After some interrogation, Paul decides to trust him. They agree to make the trip to pick up Will’s family and food supply. The tension is very high from there on out. It Comes At Night tears you apart with who you actually want to believe. Does Will mean no harm? Or is he hiding something? That combined with the unknown threat that is outside, the movie left me feeling extremely paranoid.
The movie pays a lot of attention to Paul’s son Travis as well. Some of the scariest and creepiest scenes in the film involve travis because he has nightmare and sleep walking sessions. This is a good and bad thing. The good part is that it adds a lot of terror to what is already a tense film. The scenes were edge of your seat scary, and it was great. The slight downfall of that is that every time something scary happened with Travis, it often turned out to be a dream. That made it slightly disappointing.
The two main things that made It Comes At Night terrifying are the score and the cinematography. The score propelled the film into a new level of horror in a few scenes. It is easily one of the best scores of 2017. The cinematography is what’s really impressive, though. It felt like a Roger Deakins film if he used a Steadicam rig. There were numerous shots that just made the audience feel very tense, with slow push ins and impressive tracking shots. That combined with fantastic lighting and coloring made it impossible to look away, even if you wanted to.
The main issue with It Comes At Night is that it doesn’t quite give you what you want. There is plenty of dialogue exchanged about how people are sick and you get the feel that it is definitely a post apocalyptic movie, but as a viewer you don’t quite get to see what an infected person looks like or what they do exactly. There are few quick shots of an infected person, but that’s about it. It raises more questions that it gives you answers, and that is one of the most frustrating things a movie can do. Granted, It Comes At Night isn’t the kind of movie to focus on that aspect. It is a film of survival and mistrust. However, it still would have been really interesting to see a glimpse of what the infected people could do.
The slow burning feel of It Comes At Night is really what drives the film. Nothing feels forced. It slowly becomes more and more intense and thought provoking as it progresses. It slowly flips from us against the world to us against each other, and its executed beautifully.
Overall, It Comes At Night isn’t a ground breaking horror film, but its still a really good one. It was missing that one thing to make it truly great. It is still one to catch in the theaters simply because it is way better than most horror films that come out each year.