It Comes at Night

Release: Friday, June 9, 2017


Written by: Trey Edward Shults

Directed by: Trey Edward Shults

Trey Edward Shults’ sophomore feature It Comes at Night is a psychological horror film that traps the audience along with two families in an abandoned house in the woods that, over the course of a slow-burning 90 minutes, turns into a cauldron of fear, mistrust and paranoia as they try to survive an unnatural threat that is terrorizing the world.

In his 2014 debut, the critically-acclaimed comedy-drama Krisha, Shults kept things in the family by casting several of his own relatives, including his aunt in the lead. It was an inspired decision that rewarded Shults with both the Grand Jury and Audience Award at the 2015 South by Southwest Film Festival and plenty of post-festival buzz. His preoccupation with the family dynamic continues here, with the story centered firmly around a patriarch, Paul, played by Joel Edgerton, who must negotiate a tricky situation when he, his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and teenage son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) are discovered by another survivor.

In 2017, Shults is keeping things brutally real. It Comes at Night is a punishing, indie-esque horror/thriller hybrid that proves to err is indeed human, except during the apocalypse, where it becomes pretty much fatal. The story remains a simple and grim portrait of survivalism. Shults spares not one second in establishing a tone of solemnity as the movie opens with the euthanasia of an older family member who seems to be in the final stages of something awful. Gone are the days of hospice care; now when they get sick we simply dump our loved ones in a shallow grave and light them on fire. Forced to take part in these unpleasantries, Travis starts to have recurring nightmares.

Preexisting tensions get ratcheted up another notch when a young man named Will (Christopher Abbott) stumbles upon their remote outpost. While being interrogated by Paul, having spent the night gagged and bound to a tree, he explains he has come looking for water, that he didn’t know the house was occupied, and that he’s legitimately desperate. After some thoughtful beard-stroking Paul decides that at the very least, the newcomer doesn’t seem sick. He will travel with Will to trade for supplies as Will claims to have an abundance of food. Sarah suggests they bring Will’s wife and child back with them so they can increase their security against any future break-ins. (Plus, you know, it’d be nice having company around other than the Grim Reaper.)

Details of what caused the catastrophe remain sparse throughout the film. We don’t even know much about what it is that ails us, other than it’s contracted through physical contact. And that it’s bad. Really bad. There’s something distressing about the unknown and Shults exploits that fear to extreme effect, accumulating all of the film’s miseries and supposed lesson-learning into one spectacularly devastating finale from which you will need days to recover. It’s an admonishment for our predictable behavior, for when we, even in the most desperate of situations, just can’t help but try to fuck each other over. The nihilism on display is both tragic and refreshingly honest.

Recommendation: To be perfectly blunt: if steamy sex scenes as rewards for characters who have endured the impossible are what you seek from your movies, you’re standing in the wrong line. But for those who appreciate horror that doesn’t condescend or stoop to the lowest common denominator, and that is harsh as all hell, they’ll find much to latch onto with this beast. 

Rated: R

Running Time: 91 mins.

Quoted: “If they’re sick, then I am too.” 

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16 thoughts on “It Comes at Night

  1. Pingback: Month in Review: June ’17 | Thomas J

  2. What an ace poster. Heard some awesome things about this; smartly written review mate. Sorry I’ve been off the grid of late; taken some time off. Glad to see you are still producing the goods though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers dude, it’s been a sloppy month but I’m pleased I will be continuing. Having taken some time off myself, it’s been kind of nice not having to pressure myself to do certain things.

      When a movie like this pops up, though, I’m reminded why I love doing this!

      Thanks kindly for the support buddy!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I liked it too. I was apprehensive because I had heard some very negative things about this film. They were wrong. It’s an intelligently crafted tale of survival. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is a movie that takes and takes from the audience without really giving anything back. It’s a really heavy film and that ending, woof. I’m kind of not surprised there was a huge disparity between critical opinion and the audience response. I too really got a lot out of this. I look forward to what moves he makes next


    • Very heavy movie, but because I really can’t get enough of Joel Edgerton I made it through a bit better. But yeah, this one ain’t messing around 🤤


    • I hadn’t heard much about the mis-marketing. In what way has this been mis-marketed? I thought the trailers pretty much laid out what the film was going to be like. Either way, hope you enjoy the thing. It’s definitely interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

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