Written by James Reilly – Student Pages Entertainment Journalist/Film Critic
It Comes at Night (2017) is the second feature from director Trey Edward Shults after his 2015 indie darling; Krisha. This time he takes on the horror genre, and although I do think it’s a good film, its not for how it has been marketed.
Marketed as an intense, horror film; It Comes at Night is a film about a family who, while surviving against an unknown pathogenic threat, must make difficult decisions when confronted with a stranger and his own desperate family. While as a horror movie (because that’s how they marketed it) I feel it does not succeed, as a intense psychological drama I think it triumphs (to some degrees). The pacing was spot on, made increasingly better with its confined environment we find our main characters. Not knowing what is going on in the outside world, or anything really about the strange disease that’s infecting people, is both a advantage and a disadvantage to the film. I don’t like knowing everything about a plot, the more questions the better, but I feel like throughout a 90 minute film we may get at least one answer on the multitude of questions the film raised. Alas, we are left with no answers for almost all the film about anything which makes us as an audience feel isolated – which, if I give the benefit of doubt to the director, might be exactly what he wanted. We don’t know what the disease does, how its contracted or what the results are – and to that same degree neither do the main characters. We are as helpless as they are, and while this is extremely frustrating, its blistering realistic.
The acting is solid around the board, even the young child actor who we don’t see too much does a good job. The film, billed as Paul’s film (played by Joel Egerton) is more about his son, Travis (played by Kelvin Harrison Jr.). I felt he was a strongly solid protagonist and it felt refreshing in a supposed-horror movie to see well crafted, realistic characters taking actions I feel real people would take. While my favourite part of the movie is how it handles it characters, mainly Travis, it’s the handling of Travis that is also my biggest gripe. In my eyes 90% of the films “horror moments” come from dream sequences. While this is not a bad thing when done effectively, in a 90 minute film to have nearly all your scary moments not actually exist and just take place in a characters mind? I felt a tad cheap. Again though, I’m not sure if this is deliberate and how the main horror in this world is not the world itself, its the mind within each man and woman living in it – I don’t know. I like to think that is the case and not (we need scary moments for the trailer and the fact its a horror film)
Overall if you expect a horror movie waking in, you may very well be disappointed. However if you can look past that and see it for what it is, a very capable psychological drama/thriller, then you may very well enjoy this movie a lot. After giving it a few hours, after I first saw it I was a little let down, I must say my enjoyment for this film has matured like a fine wine. While by far not the best horror movie of the year (Raw can keep its place firmly at number one for me) its a very good drama and one that I’d recommend seeing for yourself.
Follow James at @JamesisGinger