For the entirety of It Comes At Night, I was confused. I was waiting for the inevitable moment when the monster is revealed. When the tension that is slowly built over a 90 minute run time, spills over into violence caused by a preternatural being.
And violence does occur. Violence spills over in ways that changes lives, that changes the notion of what I thought was a controlled situation. It Comes At Night is a film that shows what little push is needed to force a situation into unmitigated chaos.
Writer and director Trey Edwards Shults has taken a claustrophobic thriller and hidden away a family drama with deep themes of how we treat each other in times of stress, and just how fragile civility can be. It’s also, in a strange but deeply affecting way, a film about being a father and the responsibilities that tie itself to such a word.
It’s a small cast, with Joel Edgerton as most established presence throughout, playing a father and that’s all I’m going to say about his role. He’s an actor whose work subtle work for years, has gone unnoticed. I first became aware of him through the MMA family drama Warrior from 2011, and have been excited whenever he’s involved with a project ever since. Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo and Kelvin Harrison Jr round out the main cast and do a fine job. Especially Harrison who plays Edgerton's son, who has a large bulk of the emotional scenes.
The movie is also beautifully shot by cinematographer Drew Daniels. Subtle camera movements, and lingering shots help flesh out characters without any word spoken. It’s a dark movie but lit in a way that incorporates a lot of natural lightening, filtered through the forest background.
The use of sound is also fantastic throughout the run time, with Brian McOmber using a combination of low-fi drone with hectic drum beats, to help rack up the tension. Muffled conversation and the use of echoes as a plot point, was a great way to ease the audience into necessary exposition.
The only negative thing I have to say about It Comes At Night, are the horrendous trailers. Please for the love of God don’t watch any promotional material for this movie. Whether or not it’s directly being marketed as a more violent and fast paced monster movie, that’s certainly the vibe I at least got. A lot of other reviews have mentioned the fact that going into the movie they expected one movie but came away with another. And that’s certainly true. This is a slow paced character piece and expectations should certainly be tempered if you’re expecting something different.
Best of all, It Comes At Night makes me excited for what Trey Edward Shults does next, seeing as he both wrote and directed this one. He reminds me a of a Steven Knight type creator, a penchant for great dialogue and well crafted believable characters. He seems like the type or creator where his characters propel the story forward compared to the story pushing forward the character interactions.
It Comes At Night: It won’t be in theatres for much longer, but definitely watch this one as soon as you can, wherever and however you can.