It Comes at Night Review

Horror purists have to be careful not to get duped because of films like “It Comes at Night.” With its creepy horror title, a trailer that presents like a mysterious “cabin in the woods” zombie movie and a solid amount of critical praise, horror fans will undoubtedly give Trey Edward Shults’ sophomore feature a go. They’ll be disappointed, but that doesn’t mean the film is a let down.

As with his first movie, “Krisha,” Shults achieves a more atmospheric, natural horror in this film — brutally realistic tension between humans. Using an extremely vague post- apocalyptic setup for the action, “It Comes at Night” terrifies because its characters are forced to make decisions that would rightfully haunt anyone trying to make them — or live with their consequences.

The movie feels as though adapted from a short story. Paul (Joel Edgerton) lives in a boarded up house in the woods with his wife, Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and son, Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Some disease has spread like wildfire and not long after having to put down their sick grandfather, they’re awoken to an intruder trying to break through the red door that must always be locked. After interrogating him and checking for sickness, the man (Christopher Abbott) explains that he, his wife (Riley Keough) and child are looking for refuge. Trust between them proves to be on the thinnest of ice.

Edgerton is perfectly cast as the ruthlessly pragmatic father. Much of the stakes and gravity of the situation gets communicated through his behavior and demeanor. On the other hand is his teenage son struggles with nightmares and must learn to become an adult under the extremest of circumstances. The other family’s arrival cues up the rest of the drama, as the audience’s instinct is to trust them, but Paul won’t give us the satisfaction.

The buildup is a little slow and unconventional, and the story simple, but the short runtime gets punctuated by a pulse-elevating climax that doesn’t blow the lid off the whole thing, but comes to an honest breaking point. That’s one respectable element of Shults’ film — he uses the premise of a disease outbreak genre movie, but “It Comes at Night” plays out entirely as a drama, one that highlights some brutal realities about human nature.

The authenticity of “It Comes at Night,” that this is what might actually happen in this kind of scenario, makes it more earnestly frightening than any film with zombies and gore. The entertainment value may not be as comfortable or quite on par with movies that get more creative and play for thrills, but Shults continues to create uniquely unsettling film experiences that suggest his best is yet to come.


3.5/5 Stars


It Comes at Night
Written and Directed by Trey Edward Shults
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Riley Keough


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