Although its title is sure to stir up many phallus jokes, It Comes At Night is nothing remotely humorous but instead, a taut and thrilling modern horror film that is equally refreshing to see.
Without giving much away, the plot follows the life of Paul (Joel Edgerton), his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and teenage son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who have secluded themselves from the outside world that hosts a highly contagious disease. For those fans of the highly popular game series The Last of Us on PlayStation, this film is the unofficial movie adaptation. And just like the series, you can’t help but be enthralled by the characters dire circumstances. The film’s universe is teased throughout the short 91-minute runtime, as you begin to learn new pieces of information that keep you involved with the characters. This is done perfectly as we go from simply observing actions unfold but being placed directly in their mindsets. Whilst this teasing of information sounds annoying at first glance, it only reaffirms how this is occurring the same for our characters. We learn when they learn and react when they react.
The situation they are placed in also acts in this barebone approach that ultimately reflects more of the logical reality of the apocalyptic circumstance. Writer and director Trey Edward Shults use this opportunity to narrow his scope and to focus instead on character interactions and building of suspense. This is a film that is less about its mythology, (which is still just as interesting), but more so on the tension and tone. The music works fantastically to accompany such a mood, with doses of pounding drums and eerily quiet quartets of high octave violins. And when the film states it comes at night, so does the cinematography. Day shots are fine but it’s when the night falls that the shot setups truly shine. You’ll have yourself looking out into the distance, trying to spot every nook and cranny of the dark abyss, desperately searching for something, anything that you can find. The lighting of these shots is exceptional in that regard.
When it comes down to it, It Comes At Night is a great psychological modern thriller. It’s almost a film that comes out of nowhere as its marketing promotions in Australia are incredibly minimal. I wouldn’t recommend watching the trailer to only add to the enjoyment of watching it with a blank slate but I would gauge interest simply by looking at the movie poster. Even the design of that is thrilling enough to stand alone and should be more than enough to hook you in to see the film. Forget waiting for October when the majority of horror films comes out, you only have to wait until It Comes At Night to see the real deal.