It Comes at Night is an extraordinarily effective horror film, with an exceptionally intriguing premise. Directed by Trey Edward Shults, the film flaunts great camera work, beautifully written characters, and a truly horrifying ambience.
The film centers on a small family of three, who live in a secluded house in the woods during an unknown apocalyptic event. The family is led by a man named Paul (Joel Edgerton), a stern individual who maintains strict rules in order to keep his wife and son safe. Paul is quickly put to the test in these difficult times, as a family with little food and water seek refuge in his home. Despite his better judgement, he agrees to let them stay. From here, both families are continuously at odds with one another, letting their paranoia and suspicion get the best of them, until everything finally boils over.
The characterization in It Comes at Night was beyond impeccable. Each character was very well-rounded, with completely different personalities and mindsets. Even in scenes with minimal dialogue, we the audience learn so much about each individual person just from body language and facial expressions alone.
The camera work in the film, mixed with the wonderful sound design, made for a very eerie and disturbing atmosphere. The way the camera would slowly dolly around dark corridors as the music would steadily become louder, was both visually artistic and petrifying.
One issue I’ve heard people have with this film, is that most of the horrors are left to the imagination. The viewer is never shown any monsters, zombies, or exactly what even comes at night. This, for me, was honestly one of my favorite aspects of the film. It Comes at Night emphasizes that what isn’t seen on-screen can be equally terrifying as what is actually shown. In an age where everything needs to be spelled out in black and white for moviegoers, it’s refreshing to see a film that makes you think for once.
Instead of focusing on monsters or zombies, the film really hones in on the slow psychological decent of the two families. The audience sees firsthand what paranoia and fear can do to a group of people, when pit against one another. A concept like this, when done correctly, is far more terrifying than any amount of CGI monsters.
It Comes at Night gives the viewer zero straight answers, leaving the film up for an open ended debate. These are oftentimes the best kind of movies, and this film here is no exception. It Comes at Night is the scariest film I’ve seen this year, and I hope others will enjoy its crafty, cinematic horror as much as myself.
The Verdict: A