Film review by Claire Durrant of It Comes at Night, a thriller movie about the end of the world starring Joel Egderton as one of the last people on Earth.
Set in a post-apocalyptic world; a virus has allegedly wiped out most of civilisation. Family man and survivalist Paul (Joel Edgerton) has secured himself in an isolated house in the woods, along with his wife Sarah, (Carmen Ejogo) and son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) When a second family seeks refuge, both families are pushed to their limits as paranoia, claustrophobia, and the terror from outside take affect.
Review, by Claire Durrant
It’s been a day since I last saw It Comes At Night and as I write this review. I am still conflicted about my thoughts on this film. A majority of critics have been raving about it, where as cinema ticket buyers have been less complimentary.
I believe one of the reasons behind the heavily divided opinions stems from its marketing. When the trailer was released, it was mistakenly regarded as a fast paced horror film. In reality It Comes At Night is a slow-burning thriller. In fact there are moments where the pace is so irritatingly slow that a man fell asleep in the screening, and his snore filled the room throughout the second half.
The other reason behind the reviews is the “It” of the title. It is not a monster (you’ll have to wait for the Stephen King remake for that). There is no corporeal threat to escape from. In fact Trey Edward Shults has purposely left the film as vague as possible. We don’t know how long the virus has affected Earth, nor what caused it. If there is a monster out there, we don’t get to see it. Fear is the only thing that comes to our main characters.
The ambiguity and the pace of the film can be off putting to some, but I for one enjoyed it. I liked the overall uncomfortableness the film establishes. This is partly due to Edgerton’s character, as he adds another fabulous performance to his resume.
Paul’s strict rules to surviving in their environment and his constant on edge persona correlated with me. It was a very realistic approach to what is assumed to be the beginning of the end of the world. Think The Walking Dead (2010) minus the zombies.
So when Will (Christopher Abbott) starts changing his story and the red door which should always be locked has been mysteriously open, you feel the shift in Paul as mistrust and doubt starts shadowing his mind. Is someone sick? Shults wants you to feel unnerved.
The scenery and locations are also a great asset to this film. In one of the horror elements this film does portray, the film plays with light and dark perfectly. Long shots of Travis walking down dark corridors with only a lantern in hand. Running in the forest with a torch and seeing the shadows of the trees dance. It all adds to the atmosphere.
So while I did enjoy the film, I can understand why people will not. There were parts in the film where I was hoping for action to pick up, as well as there being some editing choices, especially in regards to its aspect ratios, that I found distracting, albeit symbolic.
The best way to see what you take away from It Comes At Night is to watch it for yourself. I will however take this time to plead to you that if you are expecting a bunch of jump scares as people get killed off by something spooky with a machete, then this is not the film you will get. I suggest waiting for the next Blumhouse production.
For more, see the official website.
Cast & credits
Director: Trey Edward Shults. A24/Animal Kingdom.
Producers: David Kaplan, Andrea Roa.
Writer: Trey Edward Shults.
Camera: Drew Daniels.
Music: Brian McOmber.
Sets: Karen Murphy.
Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, Kevin Harrison Jr, David Pendleton, Griffin Robert Faulkner.