It Comes at Night
it comes at night | trey edward shults | joel edgerton | christopher abbott | carmen ejogo | mystery | united states | riley keough | kelvin harrision jr. | griffin robert faulkner | david pendleton | mikey | chase joliet | mick o'rourke | drama | sci-fi | thriller
Film: It Comes at Night
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Writer: Trey Edward Shults
Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott and Carmen Ejogo
This film was one I was quite excited to see in the theater. I convinced my family to come with me. Something I should be honest about; this is a movie that got me to stop watching trailers as it was misleading. I did enjoy this that first time around though and now giving it a second viewing as part of the Summer Series for the Podcast Under the Stairs. The synopsis is secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, a man has set up a tenuous domestic order with his wife and son. Then a desperate young gamily arrives seeking refuge.
We start this seeing Bud (David Pendleton) in a room with two others. They are wearing gloves and gasmasks. Bud is covered in sores and not doing too well. One of them is a woman, Sarah (Carmen Ejogo). She is comforting him as she is his daughter. Bud is taken in a wheelbarrow out into the woods where he is killed by the other. This is Paul (Joel Edgerton) and Bud is his father-in-law. Bud is put in a shallow grave and set on fire.
Back at the house we meet the other members of the family. There is Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) and Stanley (Mikey) their dog. There seems to be some sort of disease that is going around so they are careful not to get it. Something I want to include is that this is weird to watch during a pandemic.
We get an idea of their life, which is hard. Paul wants Travis to be involved more with the decision and Sarah doesn’t. I get the feeling that it isn’t she doesn’t think he is ready but wanting to preserve a bit more of his childhood. Travis is plagued by nightmares that we see throughout the film. They take place at night and sometimes involve his grandfather. Others are with the infection. They open their mouth and blood pours out of it. He has trouble sleeping because of these dreams.
One night someone starts to pound on their inner door. Paul and Sarah check it out. The person kicked in the outside door. He is then knocked out by Paul. The man is tied up and the next day he is secured around a tree. His mouth is taped shut and Paul checks his hands for infection. The second day he goes out to speak with him, demanding the truth. It is revealed that his name is Will (Christopher Abbott) and he’s searching for water for his wife and child. They are staying at his brother’s house and have food to trade. Paul believes him and decides to go with him to get his family to trade, possible to allow them to stay with them as well. The plan is for him to stay there for three days to ensure they aren’t sick.
On the way there they are attacked. One of their tires is shot out and then the window. They fight back and kill the two men that are attacking them. They must change the tire quickly. Paul is naturally distrustful and grills Will about if he is in on it with the two.
Soon after, Paul returns with Will’s wife Kim (Riley Keough) and son Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner). They settle into a life with normalcy, but Travis still has issues sleeping. Both families are guarded in what they share and despite them getting along, you never truly know someone. Nightmares become reality when Travis finds Andrew in another room, sleeping. He then finds their backdoor open to the house.
Now I want to lead off with this review going back to the trailer. I know some people dislike this due to what the trailer portrayed it to be. This is not a creature horror film, which is what I thought it might be coming in. We get more of a slow-burn that plays up the paranoia that human nature causes when things scare us. I think this film did a great job at that.
Going along with this, I want to explore the family unit and what people will do to defend that. We can see parallels between Paul and his family being afraid of getting sick and fearful of anyone who is an outsider carrying this disease. This is not unlike people being afraid of those of Muslim faith or being from the Middle East and assuming they are terrorist, just because we do not know them. There’s an added dimension here for the pandemic as well. What is in this movie is more deadly than COVID-19, but with the number of deaths, this movie is ahead of its time for the current state of the world.
Taking it back to this distrust, this feeling causes the crazy ending of the movie which I love. This film does not pull any punches in that respect for sure. It is interesting in that it has a basic story and more character driven. I originally thought this was ambiguous, but having given it a rewatch, I don’t think so. Decisions are made to protect those around you and it has consequences. It is quite powerful.
Before moving away from the story, I wanted to delve a bit into the title. I originally thought it meant a creature. I’ll be honest there. Having now seen this twice, the most basic way of looking at it is that fear comes at night. People are left with their own thoughts. For Travis, his nightmares come at night. It correlates back to fear as well. There is a bit of haunting poetry with the title for me.
Next, I will take this to the acting. Edgerton is great. He has the toughest position aside from Will. He is the father of this family and in his eyes, it falls on him to keep them safe. He likes the other family he finds, but he has a natural distrustful of outsiders. As humans, we crave to be with others. He sees and feels this, while knowing what his main priority is. I thought Ejogo was good as his support and she doesn’t question his decisions. They are a unit and on the same page. Abbott is not unlike Edgerton, so I liked his role in the film as well. What is interesting to me was the relationship that develops between Keough and Harrison. There is an odd scene where they talk late at night and I was wondering if an affair would occur between them. There was something between them. I don’t necessarily mean sexually. Travis is 17 and his hormones make him feel that way. I think Kim by nature is flirty and just being nice. I felt the acting was a bright spot and drove the film.
Then I’ll go to the last parts which are the cinematography, effects and the soundtrack. For the former, I thought it was great. This movie is shot beautifully. We get interesting angles and through this we also get some surreal things. I’m not always a fan of dream sequences, but this movie needs them. We are seeing what Travis fears and it becomes the point where we don’t know what is real and what’s not. The soundtrack isn’t a lot of music, but the quiet of the woods can be a creepy thing. I noticed that there is some bird and insect sounds, but not a lot of them. It is almost like a lot of the animals have died off. It added a touch to the creepiness of the film for me. To finish with the effects. What we get is good. I like the look of those infected. That was creepy. The blood we get also looked good. Everything here seemed to be done practical, which I’m also a fan of.
Now with that said, this film is not for everyone. As I stated in the beginning of my review, this one is hurt by the trailer. Don’t let that hurt it for you. We get a great character driven story about a man and his family trying to survive this pandemic. The paranoia that comes with not knowing if others around you are infected or not adds tension. The acting of this film drives it and every did a great job in my opinion. The cinematography is also great and the soundtrack helped to make the film have that creepy, surreal feel. I personally loved how this played out as I didn’t expect it to go where it did and for that, I enjoyed it. If this sounds interesting, I recommend this to horror and non-horror fans alike. This is a great film for me.
My Rating: 9 out of 10