It Comes at Night is a film you should go into knowing as little as possible, so I’m sorry but I can’t discuss the plot. It’s such a divisive film that you can’t go in with a single expectation. It’s the kind of film that challenges all audiences with its horrifying imagery, intense and surreal filmmaking, and it’s ambiguity. It’s being marketed as a horror film but it’s hard to fit it in a genre. It’s definitely not a horror film, it’s a psychological thriller more than anything. It’s a film about fear, hopelessness, darkness, sadness, and paranoia, but it’s also a film about love, family, and protecting what you love. This makes for such a powerful and unique story piled into an hour and a half of pure terror and suspense. The title does not suggest a supernatural threat yet a mysterious psychological threat that is never really revealed. The acting from the five main actors, Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and Riley Keough, is an a higher league than any of the film performances delivered this year. Each of their character’s lines and physical reactions are incredibly realistic and brilliantly scripted. Edgerton especially brings depth to a protective and strict but loving father and husband who will protect his family at any cost. Harrison is also especially talented, with his performance as Edgerton’s character’s son being outstandingly fascinating with plenty of believable emotion.
Director Trey Edward Shults knows how not only to use dialogue and actions to the story’s advantage, but also using slow camera movements and cuts to create tension. He makes every shot last long and advance slowly, and every shot feels so crisp and edited so well. Shults also loves experimenting with the film’s aspect ratio, making it smaller as the tension increases during certain scenes. It’s cool in the first few times this is done, but during the climax, the smaller aspect ratio was distracted from the terrific acting and writing in that scene, which were made harder to appreciate during that scene because of that editing choice. We’re often given shots that may or may not represent dream sequences, and you’re left to think about whether those shots were dreams or really happening. Despite how pessimistic, dark, and saddening the film may seem, it’s also somewhat about the love of family. All the characters aren’t without their family, and they all care about nothing more than their family. When a character makes a horrific decision, you can somewhat understand what their motives were because of how fleshed out all these characters are. This is a film about how fear and paranoia can be the true villain and can dominate over us sometimes. The final shot is deep, moving, quiet, powerful, and extremely haunting at the same time. Lots of it is left unanswered to be ambiguous and left for the audience to think about, which is what has made this film receive backlash from audiences. Audiences have been unsatisfied with the film’s ending, which I will not spoil in this review. It Comes at Night is so different than what we usually see in theaters, and people just want to watch the same robots, monsters, superheroes, and ghosts over and over again. This is a film that does something unique: It leaves you with zero exposition in the beginning, and almost no explanation of how the film ended. The lack of exposition did not bother me at all, as it is easy to assume what is out there and what conflict the main characters are facing, but we are never told why they are alone and what is making everyone sick. Giving us only the same amount of information as the characters is such a clever choice that builds even more fear throughout the film’s runtime. The choice to make everything in the end ambiguous has mostly been criticized about the film, but I think that the way lots of things are left for interpretation at the end is just far more haunting and majestic than if everything was answered in the end. The film is not treated like a movie, with a regular formula and closure in the end, but another chapter in the main family’s life, and a reflection of the real demons inside us, not paranormal demons like many would expect from a film like this. This movie is being loved by critics but panned by audiences, and has only made $6 million dollars at the box office. Please don’t let It Comes at Night be a failure, and go see it in theaters. It’s so much better than any superheroes, pirates, mummies, aliens, talking cars, comedies, or biopics out there right now.
It Comes at Night is by far the best film of the year. It’s dark, violent, chilling, and unsettling, but it’s more beautifully made and incredibly acted than any other movie this year. Audiences have been divided by its misleading marketing and title, as well as its ambiguous ending. But I promise you, It Comes at Night is a masterful work of art worth paying for. Whether or not I’m worth trusting is up to you, but I implore you, before you judge the film based on any trailers or reviews, go see it for yourself.