Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Film Review: It Comes at Night


It Comes at Night is dividing audiences and critics down the middle - question is, which side of the fence do I sit on?

The film opens on a haunting future; humanity is scattered and plagued by a strange illness not dissimilar from the plague. Paul (Joel Edgerton) lives on the fringes of society with his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr), isolated from the world in their boarded up farmhouse.

When Will (Christopher Abbott) arrives claiming to be looking for supplies, tensions begin to escalate as the two sides vie for the same space. Can they learn to coexist? Or will paranoia prove their undoing? And what exactly is it that comes at night?

Well, there wouldn't be much point in watching the film if you already knew. Whether you eventually find out or not is another story entirely. The brilliance of It Comes at Night (oh yeah, this film is brilliant by the way) is not in how watertight its narrative is or how comprehensive the world is presented.

Quite the opposite; few films effectively capture uncertainty and unease quite like It Comes at Night. Its greatness stems from our unknowingness; we aren't given much in the way of backstory or setup. Little to no explanation is given regarding the world and you're guaranteed to leave with more questions than when you went in. And whilst that didn't bother me (quite the opposite, in fact), it will certainly upset or anger people who like horror movies to be more like The Conjuring and less like The Witch.

Shults proves himself more than adept at crafting atmosphere; It Comes at Night is nothing if not suffocatingly bleak, claustrophobic and at times genuinely terrifying. It's the fear of the unknown that draws you in and holds you there with this film; you find yourself scanning every corner of the frame searching for answers as the camera pans across a woodland or delving into every corner of a darkened room.

The acting is also excellent; Edgerton, as is expected at this point, gives a powerful performance filled with weight and sincerity. His character has an edge that is often hard to predict. Similarly, Ejogo and Abbott are great as the two opposing forces acting upon Edgerton.

The real surprise in both an acting and narrative sense is Harrison Jr as Travis; as the film unfolds, he plays an increasingly important and compelling role to the point that you would consider him the protagonist come the end of the film.

The Verdict: 8/10


It Comes at Night is as uneasy and unnerving as it is divisive. A pool of great performances and some haunting direction and cinematography make this an unmissable experience for horror fans, even if it doesn't hit all the beats mainstream audiences might expect.

It Comes at Night is in cinemas across Australia now.

2 comments:

  1. Great review! I'm not a huge horror fan but the fact that this one seems to have divided viewers so harshly has me SO intrigued that there's no way I can ignore it for long!

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  2. Great review, and I knew I'd be disappointed in myself for missing this one in theaters. I read a lot of critics compared it to last year's The Witch with how similarly it divided audiences. That being said, I'm sure I would have loved it. Damnit...

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