It Comes At Night (2017)
Critic Consensus: It Comes at Night makes lethally effective use of its bare-bones trappings while proving once again that what's left unseen can be just as horrifying as anything on the screen.
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Critic Reviews for It Comes At Night
A fairly straightforward post-apocalyptic story, tightly focused on human torment, but suffused with surprising, undeniably atmospheric sights and sounds.
Edgerton gives another masterly minimalist performance, and Ejogo and Harrison are preternaturally alert.
Scored intensely and photographed vividly, the electric film imagines a small slice of doomsday with horrific believability.
It's not a sexy apocalypse, with a disease that transforms everyone into really cool zombies. It's just death. And it's not an easily managed "Doomsday Preppers" scenario solved by bulk foods from Jim Bakker infomercials. It's just doom.
Midway through "It Comes at Night" you might wonder where it's headed, and it seems Shults may have asked himself the same question. It's a breathless thriller that will leave you gasping until it finally runs out of air itself.
Audience Reviews for It Comes At Night
Like an earlier harbinger of the potential pitfalls of mother! marketing your movie as something it's not, the vaguely apocalyptic drama It Comes at Night is a paranoid thriller that is so bleak and absent resolution that you'll wonder why anyone bothered. It's not a bad film, and actually writer/director Trey Edward Shults has a knowing command on how to raise and develop tension with very precise camerawork and visual composition. The slow inspection of offscreen noise is still ready to build tension. The story has promise. Joel Edgerton is the father of a family trying to eek out an existence after the spreading of a deadly plague. He has a strict series of guidelines to protect his family members and keep them secure. This is put into jeopardy when he meets another family and invites them into his home. The rest of the film follows the slow dismantling of trust and the rise in suspicion and how it ruins both families. That's essentially the movie. There is no "it" of the It Comes at Night. The post-apocalyptic element is at best tertiary to the plot, and the titular warning seems odd considering sickness can arrive at all hours. I think the reason audiences seemed to froth wildly at the mouth over this movie is due to its grossly misleading marketing. I re-watched the trailer and all of the supernatural imagery, which is extensively highlighted, is from dream sequences, and one dream sequence within a dream sequence. There's a moment where the grandfather's dog runs off into the woods at barks at an unseen force. You hear strange sounds but you never see anything, and this becomes just another unresolved, underdeveloped element. This is more a Twilight Zone parable about the destructive nature of man. The look of the film is moody, the performances are good, but I felt underwhelmed by the end and questioned the point of it all. It Comes at Night is okay. I can't see what people loved and I can't see what people hated, though I can see more of the aversion. Nate's Grade: C+
I don't need happy endings in my movies. A downer ending is often what makes a movie great. But I do like satisfactory ones. It Comes at Night did not give that to me. Mystery is often its own reward, and I do believe that's what writer/director Trey Edward Shults was going for here, but it didn't wind up hit that resonant for me. This particular movie felt like it wasn't about the journey, it was about the destination, and we essentially didn't get one. Joel Edgerton is fantastic of course, but any one of the other actors could have been as well, we'll never know because they were never given that opportunity. Which really says it all with It Comes at Night. There seemed like there was something very worthwhile just on the other side of the veil, but we'll never know, because we never got to see it. And with cinema, if we didn't see it, does it really count?
THE WALKING DREAD - My Review of IT COMES AT NIGHT (2 Stars) Trey Edward Shults made a stunning feature filmmaking debut last year with KRISHA, a study of a woman slowly breaking down at her estranged family's Thanksgiving dinner. Gorgeously shot by cinematographer Drew Daniels, the film impressed me with its ability to wring suspense out of the most mundane of setups, such as the cooking of a turkey. When I heard he followed up this little gem with what looked like a more traditional horror film, I thought it would be a match made in heaven. KRISHA's camera swooped around, honing in on our quickly disintegrating title character, and it gave me the creeps in a really good way. I couldn't wait to see what Shults did next. Taking a look at the trailer to it, I had to know what was outside that red door, what was in the woods, and what came at night. And then I saw the movie. Perhaps the marketing campaign influenced my opinion, but IT COMES AT NIGHT is not a horror film. It has some really good performances, some assured imagery, and a genuine sense of hopelessness, but in the end, I found it to be tedious and disappointing. I wanted to be scared, yet I was ultimately bored. Where have you heard this scenario before? In the woods, a family, Paul, Sarah and Travis (Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr., and their trusty dog) have turned their home into a bunker to protect them from what appears to be an epidemic that leaves its victims covered in boils and spitting blood until they die. Grief stricken from burying a loved one, they encounter an intruder, Will, (Christopher Abbott of GIRLS) one night who challenges their ability to trust anyone outside their own family. From here on out, it's a power play to see who gets to be Rick Grimes. Yep, IT COMES AT NIGHT is essentially a standalone, super-sized episode of THE WALKING DEAD. All that was missing were zombies and a chyron that read: MEANWHILE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF ATLANTA. To make sure Will isn't diseased or dangerous to them, Paul ties him to a tree to sit overnight. Once he feels he can trust him, Paul offers to fetch Will's wife and young son (Riley Keough and Griffin Robert Faulkner) and bring them to their house to live. Strength in numbers, he reasons. From this point, any little transgression could mean the delicate balance ends. Guns will come out if anyone gets caught in a lie, because preserving the family gets top priority. Haven't we been doing this for the past 7 seasons on AMC? I can appreciate a good, post-apocalyptic nail biter, and IT COMES AT NIGHT has some tense moments. Shults drops us into the story with no exposition. Our main characters know very little about what happened to their world, so neither do we. Composer Brian McOmber, who also worked on KRISHA, has written an intense score, and along with the unnerving sound design, shadowy, candlelit images, and ambiguous intentions of its main characters, it's easy to see why an audience could find parts of the film frightening. Edgerton, Abbott and Harrison Jr. give fine performances. Harrison Jr. has terrible nightmares and often snoops around the house spying on their guests or gazing outside into the woods. He has an enigmatic face and is asked to pretty much carry the film from his point of view. He does well with what he's given.....but it's not nearly as much as I was hoping. Same goes for Ejogo and Keough, both of whom have proven themselves to be world class actors with their work in SELMA and AMERICAN HONEY respectively. Here, they cry and scream well, but just don't get that much to do. Ejogo was wasted in ALIEN: COVENANT as well. Somebody please give this talented actor more to do, stat! I kept writing a better movie in my head as it went along. Travis seems to struggle with something internal. Is he imaging everything? Is he an unreliable narrator? What does he see in the inky, black forest? Is there a supernatural being in the trees? Is ANYTHING going to come at night? Will SOMETHING please come at night? Why is this movies called IT COMES AT NIGHT????!!!!! Shuts still has promise. The film has what I like to call good bones. A house. A desperate pair of families. The end of the world. All solid elements for a horror movie. I wanted insane BLAIR WITCH-style mayhem, things banging at the house at night, creatures emerging from the darkness. I know it's not fair to want a different movie, but when you give your movie a title like that, expectations do exist. I supposed they wouldn't sell as many tickets with something called THE WORLD ENDS WITH A DULL WHIMPER.
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