It Comes At Night (2017) Movie Review

When I had first heard about It Comes At Night a few months ago, I was intrigued to say the least. Once I saw the teaser, I knew I had to go see this movie. For the first time in forever, I watched a trailer that not only grabbed my attention but didn’t give away 90% of the plot. Even the synopsis keeps its cards close to the vest. It Comes At Night opened today, June 9th, in theaters across the country. Let’s see how well it fared.

The official synopsis:

Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has established a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son, but this will soon be put to test when a desperate young family arrives seeking refuge.

It Comes At Night was written and directed Trey Edward Shults in his sophomoric effort after 2015’s comedy drama Krisha. The film stars Joel Edgerton (The Thing 2011), Christopher Abbott (Martha Marcy Mary Marlene 2011), Carmen Ejogo (Alien: Covenant 2017), Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road 2015), and Kelvin Harrison, Jr. (Roots 2016). David Kaplan (It Follows 2014) and Andrea Roa (Tramps 2015) co-produce. The score was created by Krisha composer Brian McOmber while Jessie Eden (Animal Agent TV series) was in charge of special FX makeup.

Let me start by saying that It Comes At Night is not at all what I had expected. When I had walked into the theater, I thought I was there to see nighttime battles between the families and the afflicted, or someone with symptoms try to hide their sickness from the rest of the group as the illness took hold. What I got instead was a slow building, tense story showing that, even though you may do the right thing every time, you still could lose. No amount of control and locked doors can keep everything out.

What Works

The story itself was beautifully told through the eyes of 17 year-old Travis (Harrison, Jr), the son of house owners Paul (Edgerton) and Sarah (Ejogo). The film opens with the death of Travis’ grandfather, who had contracted what looked like a cross between the Bubonic and Septicemic plague (bleeding from the mouth, blackened fingertips, pus-filled blisters that crack open and rot the skin). Thrown by his grandfather’s death, Travis takes on the care of Stanley, the old man’s dog. The teen is the heart of the household, and when the family’s labyrinthine fortress of a cabin is broken into by a desperate man named Will (Abbott) looking for supplies for his family, it’s Travis who thinks about bringing water to their tied up prisoner. And when Paul relents and lets the family movie in, the teenager bonds with their young son, Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner).

It Comes At Night was also gorgeously shot. One of my favorite scenes was filmed through the roots of an upturned tree. Speaking of trees, the pines and hardwoods surrounding the cabin are characters themselves, showing off personality as well as shadowed hiding spots. Shults’ idea to blur the line between dreams and reality was genius and kept me guessing right up until the very end.

What Doesn’t Work

The film left me with many unanswered questions. While I won’t go into detail for fear of spoiling anything, it seemed like at least some of the mysteries introduced would have had some closure by the end. Just like life, some questions were never meant to be answered, I guess. There were also some heartstring-yanking deaths that I could have done without seeing. Sure, I’ll remember It Comes At Night for a long time because of those deaths, but those are not the kinds of things I want to remember about a movie.

Final Thoughts

It Comes At Night is an original take on apocalyptic disasters, focusing on two small families trying to live together despite their inability to trust each other. It was a slow rise to boil, but that only made the climax that much more horrifying. If you’re looking for blood and guts, skip this one. But if you’re looking for a suspenseful tale of a family in death defying dire straights, then give It Comes In The Night a shot.

About Tracy Allen

As the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of PopHorror.com, Tracy has learned a lot about independent horror films and the people who love them. Now an approved critic for Rotten Tomatoes, she hopes the masses will follow her reviews back to PopHorror and learn more about the creativity and uniqueness of indie horror movies.

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