It Comes At Night
Release Date: June 9, 2017
Directed by: Trey Edward Schults
Written by: Trey Edward Schults
Producers: David Kaplan, Andrea Roa
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Riley Keough, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr.
Rated: R (for violence, disturbing images, and language)
Running Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes
About fifteen to twenty minutes into It Comes At Night, we protagonist Travis (actor Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) laying on his bed and staring up at an oil painting that looms over the room. The painting is called The Triumph of Death, created by Spanish artist Pieter Bruegel in 1562. The landscape in the image is barren; people are fleeing in terror, bodies lay in landfills as an army of skeletons ravenously murder civilians one by one through a number of excruciating methods. The title of the painting is more literal than anything, and it sets up the tone of It Comes At Night as the psycho-horror film that it truly is.
The trailer for this film is misleading, and I feel like this could be a problem for those that are thinking it could be a horror adventure along the lines of a picture that features a supernatural monster like Sinister or Insidious. The film is still shocking, however, and it is guaranteed to leave you with a feeling of dread upon walking out of the theater.
It Comes At Night opens with a family (Joel Edgerton, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Carmen Ejogo) killing their grandfather and setting fire to the corpse. It’s more of a mercy killing than anything; the grandfather was inflicted with a mysterious sickness. The phrase “are you sick?” is uttered at length throughout the film, and by the end it’s still not entirely clear what this “sickness” is. There’s one graphic shot that shows the effects of this “sickness”, but that’s all we’re really given. Everything else is left, more often than not, to the imagination.
The next evening, the family hears a noise outside the home to find that there’s an intruder in their midst. Paul (Edgerton) meets Will (Christopher Abbott), taking him captive in the belief that he could be infected. After being tied up to a tree outside, Paul talks to him and allows him to bring his family, a wife and child (Riley Keough, Griffin Robert Faulkner), to come and stay with them, as they’re running out of much needed supplies.
All is well within the camp. Both families seem to get on, making food, helping with chores, playing with the family dog. But it’s perfectly clear that Paul only cares about his family, and will do anything to make sure that they’re safe, even if it means vetting the other family extensively about every single decision they make. And let’s not forget the one, most important rule: never open the door at night. A crimson-colored door sits at the end of a darkened hallway, serving as the connector between the safeness in the house and the danger and mystery of the outside world. It’s obvious that at some point, this door is opened and someone violated this rule, but I won’t reveal how, why, or exactly what happens at this point. This is where the true horror of the film begins.
The cinematography in this film is dark; sunlight is only ever exposed a couple times towards the beginning of the film, and director-writer Trey Edward Schults plays with lighting and color to emphasize the seriousness and horror hiding within each scene.
It Comes At Night is not the horror film that you think it is, and it left me with mixed feelings upon finishing it. You do get a piece of cinema that is quite horrifying, but not in the way that you’d expect. The acting is superb (actress Keough gives a performance towards the end that is both stunning and heartwrenching), and the story important, as it sheds light on the most horrific piece of the puzzle that is humanity. The monster that “comes at night” sleeps deep within our subconscious throughout the day, waiting until the last singular flicker of daylight creeps behind the horizon so it can ravage its way into our world. Whether our characters are able to defeat it, well, you’ll have to see for yourself.
It Comes At Night opens in theaters today, June 9, 2017. For showtime and ticketing information, visit www.fandango.com.
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