Horror is probably my favorite genre. The tension, the atmosphere and the feeling of sitting in a theater and becoming immersed in a terrifying and unknown situation is the greatest thing ever. A24 gave me my favorite horror film last year with The Witch and they continue to give quality film after quality film and are slowly becoming my favorite film studio. When the poster and trailer for It Comes At Night premiered, I was immediately sold. The A24 logo, the vagueness and the tension created in the combination with the marketing was perfection. So I was anticipating this film and hoping it was gonna be this years The Witch. So did it succeed? Yes and No. It Comes At Night is one of my favorite films this year and an intense, bleak and atmospheric thriller about an unknown disease plaguing the world and a family’s struggle to survive. The only thing is that that trailer and poster sold a very different film. The marketing was one of the most misleading campaigns I’ve ever witnessed in with a film. That being said, the film we do get is one hell of a well made movie.
Paul (Joel Edgerton) is a man who is trying to protect his family, Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), from a virus that has seemed to send the world into a whirlwind and created a sense of paranoia. When Will (Christopher Abbott), a man breaks into their house and looks for some help as he’s running low on resources to support his own family, the two families converge and slowly but surely, trust begins to ware thin and paranoia slowly creeps in as things start to happen and these two men have to experience the moral question of “what would you do in order to protect your family”.
Joel Edgerton is fantastic in this film. He’s extremely subtle and nuanced. You get a sense of pain and conflict in his eyes as he has to try and protect his family and that brings conflicts that make him do things that may be morally wrong. I loved his performance in this film. Honestly, everyone in this film is truly magnificent. Christopher Abbott as Will and Kelvin Harrison Jr stood out to me besides Joel Edgerton and I found myself really caring for these characters. The best thing about these characters is that there isn’t a bad guy. You see why each character is doing what their doing and I found myself saying “I would do that” and “I can’t blame them for doing that”. These characters feel very real and their motives never feel like their doing the wrong thing.
The cinematography in this film is absolutely stunning. The camera moves slow throughout every shot, racketing up the tension and creating a sense of paranoia and fear of the unknown, the central theme of the movie. Something that absolutely impressed me was how the film used practical lighting. Every scene is lit with only lights and lanterns the characters use and it was absolutely brilliant. The film also has a couple dream sequences in it and dream sequences are off and on when used in films, sometimes they feel cheap and gimmicky and other times, they’re used brilliantly. This film is the latter. The film shifts aspect ratios whenever there is a dream sequence and eventually the film plays tricks on you, making you wonder what’s a dream and what’s reality. I loved this choice by Trey Edward Shults, the director, who is immensely talented and now makes me have to see his debut film, Krisha right this minute. This film is one of the most expertly crafted looking and sounding films this year.
It Comes At Night is one of the best films this year. It’s sense of atmosphere, dread and tension presently throughout makes for an intense film about paranoia and the fear of the unknown. The films use of metaphoric imagery was so Kubrick-esque, along with the cinematography, making me greatly anticipate this Trey Edward Shults next project. Go see this film and avoid the trailers as it will probably make you hate the movie. The trailers go the Village route and sell a completely different horror film. If you know going in you’re getting a tight claustrophobic post-apocalyptic film that feels like it takes place in the world of the video game masterpiece The Last of Us, then you’ll be in for one hell of a film.