It Comes at Night (2017)
dir. Trey Edward Shults
written by: Trey Edward Shults
starring: Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Christopher Abbott, Riley Keough
Trey Edward Shults’s debut feature Krisha was a monumental accomplishment in low budget filmmaking. Nearly breaking my companion’s hand from the realistic family drama, Schultz’s follow-up It Comes at Night, a horror film stuck in a post-apocalyptic forest home, became one of my most anticipated movies of 2017. A late night invasion in their bunker triggers the occupants to invite the family seeking refuge and supplies into their bungalow as the increasing desperate world outside the protective red barrier begins to erode.
Paul (Joel Edgerton) and Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) have recently parted with her father due to the strange illness that has desecrated society. Hidden away with their son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr) and their dog, the introduction of the strange couple (Christopher Abbott and Riley Keough) and their young son sparks increased concern over the safety of the family. Unusual occurrence spur added vigilance among the group as their solitude seems less secure by the day.
Edgerton continues his Southern gothic dominance as a protective father incessantly on edge. Far superior to his roles in Jeff Nichols’ 2016 duo, Paul’s protective nature is volatile and consuming. His insistence upon the dangers of the outside world gives the feature its primary direction. Ejogo plays off his concern, but Edgerton is a forceful protector, concerned more with his rules being followed than the determining the accurate threat outside the red door. Schultz’s overpowering technique allows his energy to wash over the film with eerie exceptionality.
Timely for its distrust of perceived but unrealized threats, It Comes at Night possesses a unique pace that holds attention, no matter how troubling, as reality is bent and dangers shift. Sudden and then tamed, it puts to shame many modern apocalyptic stories, especially The Walking Dead. Facing the dangers of paranoia and ceaseless trust in family honesty, the film throttles the viewer with brutal, bleak imagery and malevolent shadows. Atypical genre film of the highest quality.