Review: Who would have thought that It Comes at Night comes not as a template post-apocalyptic story although it looks like one? Trey Edward Shults’ film might look like some survival films like 28 Days Later or, even, 10 Cloverfield Lane, as it suggests the existence of a safe haven in form of a cabin in the woods with strict rules and security. But, it isn’t.
It Comes at Night will mostly lock the central characters—a family consists of a father (Joel Edgerton), a mother (Carmen Ejogo) and a son (Kelvin Harrison Jr.)—in the cabin, before it lures audiences with heaps of questions. There’s no single explanation concerning the apocalypse. There’s no volatile momentum to explain how hazardous the new world is to the plot. There’s not even a slight of sight of what ‘it’ in the title might refer to or why ‘it’ is coming at night.
All those questions and occasional suspense are wrapped around a restricting psychological thriller, which limits audiences’ senses. Unknowingness is a key in It Comes at Night as garnished by haunting silence and unseen forces inducing paranoia. Same approach is used in Shults’ previous misleading psycho-giddy, Krisha, in which he experimented on a low-key creepy treatment on a family reunion drama involving an alcoholic mother. The narrative has neither exploded nor boiled up to some climactic jiffy; but, the suspenseful built-up and uncomfortable discords linger longer than the narrative itself.
While the offbeat-ness of Krisha is much appreciated, the same thing in It Comes at Night feels a tad too bleak, given the nature which is more ‘correct’ to repeat the same presentation. There’s too few event happens in the course of the duration and there’s nothing gripping enough to make the whole film memorable. Only Edgerton’s restraint performance which keeps audiences on the edge with his stark mysteriousness—which might put him in between John Goodman’s character in 10 Cloverfield Lane and Chiwetel Ejiofor’s in Z for Zachariah.
This psychological thriller, in the end, makes only bold proof of the director’s eyes for taut and cinematic scenes out of ‘nothingness.’ Additionally, It Comes at Night also evidences the director’s savvy in creating psycho-horror out of trust and sense of confinement. It’s surprisingly thin plot conceals thick mysteries full of suspense and eeriness with no answer can be expected. It might catch you off guard with its ‘barely anything’ plot which works as if minimal is the new dismal.
It Comes at Night (2017)