Director: Trey Edward Shults
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Carmen Ejogo, Christopher Abbott, Riley Keough, Griffin Robert Faulkner
Running Time: 91 mins
Release Date: 7/7/17
This first full feature-length film from Trey Edwards Shults, after showing an impressive debut at SXSW festival with Krishna, a short film about an ‘”interesting” elderly lady, is a complete departure from the types of films being released in June and July. Smack bang in the middle of the blockbuster season, with the likes of Spider-Man, Despicable Me 3, Transformers and Pirates of the Carribean, comes a thriller that shocks down to the core. This isn’t a horror by the way the marketing material has pushed it, but rather an unsettling human trip into how different people would react in a end of the world type deal. Boarded up houses, lack of electrical supply, low amounts of food and stock, relying on farming and hunting, not being to trust strangers and protecting your loved ones at all costs. It’s a bleak future times, but gripping from the very first moments; something that makes watching terrible blockbusters worthwhile.
Never knowing really where the house is set, we find a family living in a fortified house somewhere in the US, in a deep forest, away from most civilisation and only connected via a road going deeper into the woods. Joel Edgerton plays Paul, the leader and father of the group, with set rules and strict discipline on how to stay alive, it’s only the death of his wife’s gravely ill father from a spore-like virus, that we begin our descend into their story. With his wife and son, played by Carmen Ejogo and Kelvin Harrison Jr, Paul’s only goal is to survive and keep them alive as long as he can, and it’s when a trespasser disrupts his attempts, Will, played by Christopher Abbott, that the unravelling begins. It’s Paul’s untrustworthy logic that grows due to deciding to help Will and his family, but soon begin to regret that decision by the way of Will’s white lies.
A truly tense atmosphere follows the film, with every scene containing stark imagery of death, loneliness, lies and deceit. As an audience, you’re never knowing of what the truth is, and it’s very much a ticking clock to figure it all out. Cut between scenes of family sticking together, sexual fantasies from Paul’s son, and his screaming-inducing nightmares that bring real horror, It Comes At Night, very quite let’s you settle, but instead goes in a new direction until the finale act where it ends with a massive crescendo. The way the score, or lack of, brings about an honesty and realism to the film, it’s refreshing not to have emotional moments given to the audience, but instead we find our own in moments of quiet or moments of dread. All the performances across the board are fantastic, with Edgerton again, being an actor you cannot stop watching. Ever since his break out roles in The Hurt Locker and Warrior, it seems every film he’s in, he does a great job at minimalist acting but creating such a presence that’s hard not to feel connected to; especially seeing the trauma he goes through to protect the ones he loves.
All in all, It Comes At Night is a welcome sight to see in July, wedged in between some great blockbusters, and some lousy, with its solid acting, fantastic narrative, jump-scares and slower pace. It’s realism in survivor and the human mind is far more intriguing and will leave you pondering you’re own escape plan and survival in a post-apocalyptic world.