It Comes at Night is directed by Trey Edward Shults and tells the story of a family who are held up in the woods. Right from the very beginning we see them having to execute one of their own and then burn the body. This tells us there’s an infection of some kind, but never at any point does the film let on how this all came to be. Instead it’s more of a character study all to do with how in a world such as this, it’s survival of the fittest. It pays to be cautious, but with caution comes paranoia. The family end up allowing another to come and share their cabin and it’s that paranoia which ultimately begins to tear them apart.
So as I’m sure you can tell from my description of the opening scene, It Comes at Night is a film that’s unrelenting. Many films nowadays spend so long establishing characters and environments that by the time they actually get on with the story, you’re down to the final 30 minutes of the film. As someone who watches a lot of films it was refreshing for me to see something that just jumped straight into the action, I never at any point felt like the director was trying to hold my hand and serve up all the answers on a silver platter. I can see this approach not working for everyone though, especially those who aren’t very hot at picking up on visual clues, and have become so heavily dependent on those endless scenes of exposition that their blood boils when a film actually asks them to think for themselves.
There’s some really great performances on offer here, mostly all unknown actors except for Joel Edgerton of course! But although you wouldn’t exactly describe Joel Edgerton now as an unknown, I really do think he’s painfully underrated. The critics like him, but so many of his films just don’t seem to accumulate anywhere near the attention and admiration they deserve. I mean the first example that comes to mind for me would have to be 2015’s The Gift, which he wrote, directed and starred in! Seriously if you’re reading this and haven’t yet seen it or even heard of it, I implore you to give it a watch and then perhaps you’ll start to understand what I mean when I say that this man deserves so much more recognition then he’s currently getting.
In a summer that so far has had our cinemas populated by spider man, apes and a mummy princess, it was also nice to watch a film that didn’t concern itself with setting up some kind of sequel or cinematic universe. If you’re a movie buff such as me and find yourself slowly losing the will to live when it comes to the likes of Marvel and DC dominating the silver screen, then It Comes at Night strangely may just be the sanctuary you’ve been looking for. Just make sure you know what you’re really getting yourself into, more than anything it’s a psychological thriller and not the out and out horror that the trailers would have you believe it is. 7.9/10