There is nothing stronger than a man’s love for his family. It’s a feeling deep within their minds that tells them, “These are the most important people in my life.” That feeling drives them to protect their family in times of danger. Whether it’s a burglar trying to steal their valuables or a predator attempting to kidnap their kids, they will always go to the limits necessary to save them. However, what if you were faced with something a little more supernatural. How far would you go?
In the new indie horror film It Comes at Night; we follow the life of a man named Paul (Joel Edgerton), his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), and his son Travis (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.). As a dangerous virus sweeps the outside world, Paul and his family keep a daily routine, isolated from the apocalypse in their woodland house. When a man named Will (Christopher Abbott) comes across their home, Paul decides to trust him and invites him, his wife Kim (Riley Keough), and his son Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner) to stay with them. But how much can you really trust a group of total strangers?
In the world of modern horror films, there are those who know how to scare us, and those who just want to gross us out. Unfortunately, big movie studios, and most audiences, are only interested in the latter. They don’t have much tolerance with horror films that take their time to build up suspense for the truly great scares, despite how much they say they hate those kinds of movies. Luckily, It Comes at Night, from rising indie director Trey Edward Shults (Krisha) falls into the former of the two.
This film is one of the most terrifying horror films made in the last few years, joining the indie greats like It Follows and The Witch. This film, once again, proves that independent filmmakers have a better idea on how to make a truly worthwhile horror film (with the exception of James Wan).
The entire cast gives fantastic performances, acting very true to the characters in the apocalyptic situation. Out of all the performances, Joel Edgerton really is the best. I have always been a fan of his work, and this movie is another memorable performance to add to his filmography. Even the unknowns, or lesser known, in this film give some of the best performances of any movie I’ve seen this year.
For a guy who’s only film under his belt is a drama, Trey Edward Shults is a master at building suspense. His style of horror filmmaking calls back to the old days, when these films were about suspense rather than in your face jump scares and bloody violence. There was so much tension in this film that I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. That’s how you make a compelling horror film.
Along with tension, Shults displayed something that most people don’t know how to do. He knows how to mess with your mind. When events in the movie were real, the film would have the regular aspect ratio (the black bars on the top and bottom of the screen). However, when there would be a dream sequence, the ratio would be slightly thinner. I’ll try not to spoil anything, but when this becomes a more prominent element in the film, you start to wonder what’s real and what isn’t. That is something that gives the horror genre some originality, something that most studio directors don’t try to do.
If there is one thing that sets this apart from most horror films today, it is a sense of drama. Trey Edward Shults successfully infused the dark world of his movie with a loving, dramatic story. Why is this a good thing? It gives us a reason to care for these characters. We have a reason to keep watching the movie, and feel bad when something terrible happens to them. Most studio horror films just put characters in dangerous situations without giving us a reason to care for them. That’s what Shults did better than anyone in this line of filmmaking.
It Comes at Night is one of the most brilliant horror films to come out in a long time. It has an original plot, an intense atmosphere, and a strong sense of drama. Once again, the independent circuit has churned out another horror classic, and it is no surprise that indie powerhouse A24 is behind it. They have given us so many great movies, and It Comes at Night is yet another. It can’t wait to see what Shults is going to do in the future, because he truly is one of the best upcoming filmmakers we have today.