Film, Film Review

REVIEW: It Comes At Night (2017) dir. Trey Edward Shults


It seems lately that there has been a big issue in marketing departments all throughout Hollywood, as if these companies don’t 100% understand just *how* to market their films correctly. Some market their films too much to the point of annoyance (i.e. the whole Transformers series; this weekend’s The Mummy) or they don’t market the movie enough to the point where the movie just bombs from lack of public attention. Sometimes, though, a movie is just marketed incorrectly, blowing up audiences’ expectations to be one thing when the movie is actually something else. Case in point, this weekend’s new psychologically tense horror film It Comes At Night. Warning: if you expected a standard “something goes bump in the night” monster/horror film that the trailers promised it to be, get ready to be severely disappointed. While It Comes At Night retains the horror title, and I promise you it is absolutely terrifying, it’s not a horror film in the traditional sense. The monsters in the woods are replaced by human nature and paranoia, a much more straightforward narrative that makes you question every move and decision made by our main characters. With that disclaimer out of the way to save you from utter disappointment, let me just say that It Comes At Night is THE perfect horror film of 2017, and one that will be tough to beat.

Coming off of his insanely good and incredibly cheap horror/family drama Krisha, which ended up being one of the best films of 2016, director Trey Edward Shults crafts a tense and traumatic family drama centered around the end of the world with It Comes At Night. After an unspoken and never-discussed apocalyptic event occurs, a father (Joel Edgerton) goes to the furthest lengths to make sure his wife (Carmen Ejogo) and son (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is secure and safe in their nicely tucked away and ultra protected house. Their peace and safety is challenged, though, when a man named Will (Christopher Abbott) breaks into this compound seeking safety. I won’t go on anymore, as the best way to view It Comes At Night is with little to no knowledge of the story or where the film goes. Trust me, you’ll be rewarded if you go into this film blind!

Playing out as if you are in one big terrifying nightmare, Trey Edward Shults crafts this psychologically damaging story with such elegance that it’s almost scary how good he is at directing a film, especially considering this is only his second film. The lingering shots that fill you with dread, the aspect ratio changes that create a constant fear of claustrophobia, and the beautiful nature shots in a not so beautiful world, the work Shults started on Krisha is definitely continued in a way with It Comes At Night. Just like with Krisha, Shults can make the most mundane things like eating dinner into a cringe-inducing horror fest. It does help that Shults is given a much bigger budget here than in Krisha (I mean, he uses his family in Krisha as the cast), and with this bigger budget comes a much bigger cast. The ensemble brought together in It Comes At Night is absolutely insane to witness. Every single one of these talented individuals gives their all, especially standout new comer Kelvin Harrison, Jr. as Travis, the son of the family. Following his experiences and his nightmares, you journey into this demented landscape with Travis as your guide, seeing most of this world unfold through his eyes in an incredibly heartbreaking performance. If there’s a huge amount of praise to be given on this film, the direction by Trey Edward Shults and the acting by Kelvin Harrison, Jr. are the real reason this film deserves the positive reviews.

Are the choices we make the right choices, or are they just necessary? Do we make these choices for ourselves or for the others around us? The questions It Comes At Night asks are just as heavy as the subject matter, and you while you won’t leave the theater in the best mood, you will be rewarded with what will go down as one of the best films of 2017. Playing out a bit like this year’s The Witch (or The VVITCH), It Comes At Night is not the film it was marketed as, but instead is more than just the early summer horror film it seems. Both films dig deeper into the psyche of what makes this world such a screwed up place, and even if they’re not fully appreciated at the moment, I promise you that in years to come they’ll be classics. Continuing to push the spectrum of horror is important, especially since horror is so broad and defined that it’s hard to really find a lot of originality in them anymore, and that’s why It Comes At Night is so refreshing. It makes you step out of your comfort zone and question everyone around you and yourself included, and isn’t that what horror is? Horror isn’t what goes bump in the night, it isn’t the creature hiding in the woods ready to pounce, it’s what we are capable of, the instincts we inherent as animals, and with the current political climate, maybe a social horror film like It Comes At Night is what we need right now. The horror renaissance continues! Thanks A24!

It Comes At Night
dir. Trey Edward Shults
97 min

Now playing at Somerville Theatre, as well as most multiplexes

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