"Visually stunning, powerfully performed, and with notes of genuine interest throughout"
Horror has evolved. Gone are the days of merely relying on jump scares to survive, now we are getting clever about how we are sourcing of frights. Films are becoming intelligent: Hooking genuine horror under our skin and creeping into our subconscious. We’re going back to this golden age by thinking about what will perverse us, disturb us, and follow us long after viewing.
Smart films such as It Follows, Get Out, and The Babadook have all presented different ways of spreading fear. It Comes At Night attempts to capitalise on independent horrors such as these supernatural horrors. But, sadly these type of connotations are much more a detriment to the films overall, and many other genre opportunities are missed.
Set in a not too distant dystopian future, It Comes At Night revolves around a virus that has spread through America, killing most of the human population. Keeping his family locked away in a cabin, Paul goes to extreme lengths to protect his wife and son from the dangers of the virus as well as the rabid survivors desperate for food and drink. When another young family turn up on their doorstep, looking for shelter, Paul must decide what’s best to survive.
It Comes At Night is a hard slog. Visually stunning, powerfully performed, and with notes of genuine interest throughout, the film ultimately falls short by being paced slow and with no clear narrative here. First of all, despite the creepy elements, there is no ghoul. There is actually no “It” that stalks the family at night, as is expected with the misleading title. Instead, paranoia romps fresh and free through the family. In this essence, the film is superb – developing its uneasy tense tone well enough to hold your attention through an hour and a half. But it is never fully or completely realised. There’s so much story element here that could’ve pushed the boundaries of this beyond what we are presented with, but it falters into tedium far too quickly.
Despite this drag, that may lull you into snooze on this hot summers day, It Comes At Night works best when tackling the turmoil faced by the teenager Travis. His point of view within the story is more engrossing as he crawls around different spaces of the house trying to gain knowledge of the other family. Travis, played effectively well by Kelvin Harrison Jr, is a triumph of a character. You immediately empathise with him and his fear, especially drenched in nightmarish hallucinations.
Director Ty Edward Shults does present a sublime film in aesthetics and all the right components are there. Yet with pace and fleshing out the story, it falls woefully short.