“It Comes at Night” Review: The Disturbing Results of Paranoia and Desperation

It Comes at Night is the latest film from the incredibly creative A24 studios (Ex Machina, The Lobster). It is directed by Trey Edwards Shults (Krisha). It stars Joel Edgerton (Warrior), Carmen Ejogo (Selma) and Kelvin Harrison Jr. as a family attempting to survive a lethal illness that has taken over the outside world. With his sophomore effort, Shults dives into the saturated monster movie market with gorgeous cinematography and world class performances.

Schults’ direction is absolutely superb. Several gorgeous long takes throughout the film immerse the audience into the post-apocalyptic world. Shults does this while creating a very realistic world around his characters as well. Each of his shots looks like something you would see if trapped in a similar situation. The film is incredible at building and maintaining tension. The overbearing sense of danger hooks the viewer and continues to draw them in. It Comes at Night is the type of project that needs multiple viewings to be sure that you catch everything. This is a very impressive film from Shults and I’m excited to see what the future holds for this young talent.

The shining star of this film is, without a doubt, the performance from Joel Edgerton. He plays the paranoid patriarch of his family unit excellently. He has a real talent of conveying intense emotion with only his facial expressions, rarely needing dialogue to add feeling to a scene. He continues to improve with each performance cementing himself as one of the best actors working today. Carmen Ejogo also provides a powerful yet subdued performance playing this broken person dealing with an equally broken world. Kelvin Harrison Jr, has a breakthrough performance as a young man haunted by his nightmares. The relatively small cast performs well from top to bottom.

That being said, It Comes at Night is not a perfect film. There are two major issues that this film is anchored down by: firstly, the ridiculous amount of unanswered questions. Shults does a good job engaging the viewer but I found myself confused when the credits started to roll. There are huge plot points that aren’t addressed or even mentioned again after passing. Life threatening events would happen without explanation and the audience is left to try and figure out how it happened on their own. My biggest problem with this film, however, was the trailers. They built this film to be a monster horror with creatures arriving when the sun falls. Even the title of the film foreshadows this creature. Again, when the credits rolled, I was confused when I realized that there were no monsters or zombies like advertised. It didn’t hold back the film at all like the previous issue discussed, but it did leave a sour taste in many viewers mouths. Though a very good film, it is incredibly different than the one that was advertised and I can understand why some viewer felt mislead.

Overall, It Comes at Night is a good film. Great performances and excellent direction help push this film past its faults. This film is what The Walking Dead tries to be: A realistic look into the mind is someone leading a group of people he cares about, and the dangers of desperation and paranoia on that person. A24 continues to bring us clever and innovative films such as The Witch and Moonlight, and It Comes at Night definitely earns its place with these titles. It Comes at Night successfully blends drama and psychological horror into an intense, engaging experience that is definitely worth the price of admission.

Grade: B

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