It Comes At Night (2017) is DARK. Like I enjoy depressing, dreary and self-reflecting stories…but even the ending to this Trey Edward Shults written and directed production got me reflecting […]
It Comes At Night (2017) is DARK. Like I enjoy depressing, dreary and self-reflecting stories…but even the ending to this Trey Edward Shults written and directed production got me reflecting in silence for an extended while.
I fell in love with the idea of watching It Comes At Night when its first teaser trailer dropped. It remains the best trailer that I saw the entirety of 2017. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.
A family leading an all-to-careful life is living isolated in the woods surrounded among a post-apocalyptic setting with a seemingly deadly virus sweeping the area. Paul, played by Joel Edgerton, is the father of a family three. Joining him in seclusion are his wife Sarah, played by Carmen Ejogo, and son Travis, acted by Kelvin Harrison Jr.
The family’s world of rules and guidelines is thrown into flux when another family of three are hurled into their lives. A young couple of Will and Kim, played by Christopher Abbott and Riley Keough, are forced to acquiesce to Paul’s rules while also trying to shelter their young child from the horror they are living in. Of note, two of the unbreakable rules are storing all weaponry in a safe and never opening the red door.
The most divisive part of It Comes At Night is its vagueness. The audience is purposely kept in the dark in terms of what the characters are facing. Travis is the main vessel for the viewer is thinking; through his constant nightmares and silence, we come as close as possible to finding out what’s truly torturing this family and the world as a whole…and by come as close as possible, I mean we see his eyes get large and his diseased riddled grandfather spew bloody liquids from his mouth. Tasty.
These nightmares stemmed from the first scenes in It Comes At Night when Travis had to help Paul dispose of his grandfather. The elder, and father of Sarah, is still alive when the dad and son literally wheelbarrow him out into the woods where they shoot him, throw him in a ditch, and burn him. Sarah states her concerns to Paul about how their son may be affected mentally…and as is always the case…mom is always right.
A spark for the final confrontation of the It Comes At Night comes when the family dog Stanley runs away into the woods chasing after…something. We don’t know what, who or it may be.
Again using vagueness as a weapon of storytelling, director Shults leaves the viewers dumbfounded. Could it be an animal who suddenly made the dog go quiet? Could it be a supernatural creature who lives in the apocalyptic world? Or is it simply other humans who are seeking to same survival advantages Paul and his family have?
With both families on edge, it’s only natural that Travis should discover that same evening that the vaunted red door has been opened…and a wounded and affected Stanley is laying in the dimly lit hallway.
The story of survival reaches full paranoia when Travis suggests that the child of Will and Kim is infected. He came to this realization by snooping on them, and mainly Kim…for your adolescent reasons. Travis tells his parents that he overheard them speaking how they were going to leave.
The distrust that was continuing to build between Paul and Will erupts when the over-protective father asks to check in on the family (after he had ordered time of isolation for the two parties) in the middle of the night. There we find that Will had a gun hidden away…yet another lie.
Now let the yelling, fighting, betrayal and violence now all fall into place.
I do not want to spoil the ending for it is truly one of the most depressing, heart-wrenching, thought-provoking conclusions I have seen in a long time. There is no happiness. There are no answers. There is a punctuation mark, whether that be an ellipsis, question mark, exclamation mark, or period is up to you the viewer.
SPOILER THOUGHTS BELOW
And in something I did not notice until watching FoundFlix’s video recap of It Comes At Night (Check it out below), the ferocious outdoor killing spree contains the same musical score that was previously only prevalent in Travis’s nightmare. A truly masterful touch of direction that shows how peoples deepest subconscious fears can come to live.
END OF SPOILER THOUGHTS
It Comes At Night is not for everyone. It uses subtlety to a nauseating degree and forces everyone to pay attention. The acting isn’t what I would call stellar. The more impressive part of It Comes At Night is the tone and pace. Shults finds a way make the dark-lit conversation fascinating as character studies and the tense gun-pointed moments frantic with virtuous anger.
The film is not long but the pace isn’t rushed. The characters from It Comes At Night all obey by rules…but the movie itself breaks countless tropes and its extremely refreshing. It doesn’t give answers…it only forces you to ask more.
STANKO RATING: B