For a film with a title like It Comes at Night that is billed as a horror film, you would think there would be some bone chilling scares and mysterious evil beings lurking in the shadows awaiting their future victims. That is not the case with this film that stars Joel Edgerton as father trying to keep his family safe in a secluded house in the woods after some sort of plague has wreaked havoc on humanity. The effects of the illness or the downfall of society is really not discussed too much over the course of the film. The only thing to know is the sickness is lethal and the only way to fight it is to contain and destroy it.
For those mainstream horror fans looking for plague zombies, jump out of your seat moments and gore in It Comes at Night; you will be disappointed with this film. This is a raw character study that seems more suited for the experimental film festival crowd who enjoy a different tone in their horror titles. The title is very disambiguous and has more to do with the idea of letting your guard down when you think you’re safe. There’s nothing more frightening than being awoken suddenly while you’re sound asleep to find something or someone has threatened the sanctity of your home.
Rather than add the dead rising or the infected bleeding from their eyes, director Trey Edward Shults opts for a more realistic approach with Joel Edgerton providing yet another solid performance as a survivor who takes every step necessary to keep his family healthy. Egerton’s Paul is a man trying to hold on to some part of the world he used to live in with his nightly family dinners at the table, but is the ultimate germaphobe who has zero heart when it comes to the people close to him that may have been exposed to the invisible killer. He’s a smart and good man who still manages to create a great deal of tension on-screen, because you know this guy is not playing around when it comes to his health.
It Comes at Night creates an intense vibe during certain moments in the film’s 90 minute running time, but other times the movie is a painfully slow burn that seems to have no point. Paul’s son Travis(Kelvin Harrison Jr) has a number of weird dream sequences that provide nothing in terms of content to the film and are totally out-of-place. Shults’ direction with these scenes comes across as weird just for the sake of being weird and prove to have not point in the overall scheme of film. Leaving the audience wanting more is never a bad thing, but leaving them with nothing is. It Comes at Night is a film that misses its true potential due to way too many unanswered questions and a lack of closure for the audience.
Overall, I give It Comes at Night 2.5 out of 4 stars.
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