REVIEW: It Comes At Night (2017)

Theatrical Release Poster – A24

The following is a review of It Comes At Night – Directed by Trey Edward Shults.

Following the critical success of his feature film directorial debut Krisha, director Trey Edward Shults has teamed up with A24 again to release his second film It Comes At Night. A24 has a great reputation of releasing smart, interesting, and different films.

However, much like last year’s extremely popular A24 ‘horror film’ The Witch, It Comes At Night suffers from being marketed as a conventional horror film. Thus bringing in audiences that are unprepared for the type of film it, ultimately, is.

When I sat down to watch the film, I knew what I was getting into, but, clearly, the rest of the theater thought this was a normal horror movie. This became clear to me during the previews, when the only trailer that made the theater silent was a trailer for Annabelle: Creation. People seemed extremely excited for it after the trailer was over.

During It Comes At Night, people around me were clearly restless. They were checking their phones to find out the time, and I think one or two people walked out of the theater before it was over. When the last shot of the film was over, and the first line of credits appeared on the screen, people started groaning and laughing.

When I was walking out of the theater, one guy was apologizing to his significant other for having ‘dragged her to the movie,’ and a woman behind me complained that the film was, in her words, awful. I actually liked the film just fine, but a part of me understands why audiences are so upset about It Comes At Night.

Shults’ It Comes At Night isn’t so much a conventional horror film as it is a psychological thriller or, really, an atmospheric drama. If you are jonesing for a horror movie that feeds you a creature to fear, then that isn’t what you’re going to get.

It Comes At Night isn’t interested in what lurks in the dark, as much as it is interested in showing you what the idea of having someone, or something, lurking in the dark does to people. Adjust your expectations, because the posters, trailers, and, to an extent even, the title of the film are all misleading.

Shults’ It Comes At Night follows a small family – Paul (played by Joel Edgerton), his wife Sarah (played by Carmen Ejogo), and their son Travis (played by Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) – that has secluded itself from the outside world in a house in the woods. Travis’ grandfather has just died of a mysterious disease that seems to have ravaged the entire nation, and the family is in a really bad place at the start of the film.

Then, one night, someone tries to break into their house. Paul manages to stop the man that we’ll later know as Will (played by Christopher Abbott), but, when Will explains that he was just looking for water for his own family, Sarah convinces her husband that it may be good for them to have another family around their house in the woods. The rest of the film involves these two families trying to live together under one roof as our protagonists become increasingly more paranoid.

It Comes At Night can be perceived as a generally pretty unsatisfying film. Not only have trailers tried to sell it as a different movie, but Shults’ film is completely uninterested in the disease and the dangers out in the woods. There are questions that the film isn’t interested in, as well as many answers you may want that you simply won’t get.

But let me tell you what I liked about the movie. I enjoyed how Shults toyed with the aspect ratio in the film, and I thought he did a brilliant job of really cranking up the intensity of many scenes in the film. You feel the paranoia that Paul’s family is haunted by.

Also, even though the ending of the film is somewhat predictable, the intensity of the third act is worth the price of admission. Or, at the very least, I thought it was — the rest of the theater was underwhelmed, to put it mildly.

7.5 out of 10

– Jeffrey Rex

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