Trey Edward Shults returns to the director’s chair after firstly directing A24’s Krisha (2016), with his latest film also distributed by the same film company, It Comes at Night.
This film’s marketing was almost completely shrouded in mystery, as none of the trailers, posters, or even screenshots from the film, seemingly did not show us what the film was really about. It Comes at Night follows a man named Paul (Joel Edgerton) who has a wife named Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and a son, Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). The entire family lives in a secluded house in the middle of a luscious, but creepily dull forest, as they are attempting to hide from an impending fear that lurks ever closer towards their household. Another family eventually finds Paul’s family home and stays with his family as he is also afraid of the outside fears.
Whatever you do, please do not watch any of the trailers for It Comes at Night. Luckily, I only saw the first trailer around a year ago, and nothing else, so going into the theatre to see the film, I did not remember that trailer at all. However, after seeing the film, I went back to watch the trailer for a second time, and it did show quite a bit of the best scenes, and may lead you to believe that the film is a traditional, old-fashioned horror film; but that is not the case.
The story for It Comes at Night is truly disturbing and as you watch as the film unfolds, you begin to slowly feel a slight uneasiness. There is no jump scares of any sort in the film, and it never feels as if Shults is trying to make a typical horror film. It always feels like its own movie, and the technique Shults used to direct the film, was done masterfully, and while there are no monsters in It Comes at Night, the true horror of humans turning against each other because of their own fears, is a monster all in itself.
Joel Edgerton gives yet again another fantastic performance as our protagonist, Paul. This however, is not the first time Edgerton gave a stunning portrayal of a character in cinema, as he was absolutely riveting in 2015’s The Gift. Kelvin Harrison Jr. is also terrific and gives a very real feeling performance as Paul’s son, Travis, as well as Christopher Abbott, who is masterful as the character of Will.
Unfortunately, Shults’ It Comes at Night is not a masterpiece, as there are around five dream sequences, which almost everybody hates. After about the second dream sequence, I was hoping that it would not happen again, but it continued for much longer. Even though those scenes were somewhat of a bother, I still had fun watching those sequences, because those can be some of the film’s best moments.
There is also not full resolution at the end of the film, and does not at all answer all of your burning questions you may have had earlier on in the film. Shults really wants you the viewer to put the puzzle pieces together to figure out what occured in earlier events.
Trey Edward Shults’ latest film boasts true horror, and does not contain any monsters – which is brilliant. The real “monster” in the film is fear itself, which is dark and deeply disturbing.
Overall Grade: A-
MPAA Rating: R for violence, disturbing images, and language
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Riley Keough
Directed by: Trey Edward Shults
Distributed by: A24
Running Time: 91 minutes
Film review by Caillou Pettis