It Comes at Night, 2017
It Comes at Night tells a story of two paranoid families fighting for survival from a pervasive illness that shows symptoms within a day and leaves those affected with open sores, fading consciousness, and slowed breathing. A brutal beginning sets the tone for the rest of the film’s violent, dramatic, and hysteria-induced reactions and suspicions. Paul (Edgerton), Sarah (Ejogo), and Travis (Harrison Jr.) live in a remote house in the woods with a dark exterior and no electricity or running water. They have to make trips outdoors in twos to ensure the safety of the final trio. Will (Abbott) breaks into the home and scares the entire family - of course, who wouldn’t be afraid - but once Paul vets him they make a deal. Long story short without giving away spoilers, Will’s wife Kim (Keough) and young son Andrew (Faulkner) stay with them and the tensions - and suspicions - begin to rise.
One recurring scene is that in the dining room. The same angle is used frequently to show the individuals sitting together with the light from a single lantern. The characters nearly always sit in the same seats. These scenes provide a minute of relief here and there with semi-relaxed conversation and an understanding of the family - group - dynamic. Another recurring element is Travis and his nightmares - the pattern they go in seems to repeat but each time it feels real which contributes to a timeline that feels inconsistent and disorienting making you wonder along with the characters, “what’s going on?”
Cinematographer Drew Daniels seemed to focus on isolating us in spaces of varying sizes whether cramped in the attic to listen in on conversations, lying under a truck returning fire, or running through hazy woods. Writer and director Trey Edward Shults kept the dialogue short and a bit curt throughout contributing to a distant feel even when individuals are in close quarters. Kelvin Harrison Jr. is certainly someone to watch the next few years - he is phenomenal in this.
Generally I’m not a fan of horror because I tend to lean towards two opinions when viewing: 1) that was absolutely ridiculous and a waste of my time and money, and 2) I’m afraid to be outside at night. There’s been no real middle ground. It Comes At Night provided an experience that was thrilling, somewhat nerve-wracking, and interesting enough to make me reconsider my unintentional boycott on horror films.