Starring: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbot, Carmen Ejogo, Kelvin Harrison Jr, Riley Keough.
Plot: Situated in a remote house away from civilisation, a man, his wife and son live an ordered and cautious life as an infectious disease has taken hold of the world. When a desperate family arrive seeking refuge, paranoia & mistrust threaten to change everything.
There has been a polarising change in horror in recent years, becoming less dumb and more thoughtful. Recent releases such as The Babadook, The Witch, I’m The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House and the forthcoming A Ghost Story have all staked a claim in providing its audience with a much more artfully & lovingly crafted film experience than the braindead, multiplex horror fare that has been vogue for so long. It Comes At Night is another worthy of being mentioned alongside those films.
It Comes At Night is a classy lo-fi psychological drama relying heavily on interaction between its characters and knowledge of what has befallen the world to create an unsettling and claustrophobic tale. Rather than relying on outright horror, gore and jump scares, It Comes At Night creates an aura of permeating dread, paranoia, mistrust and a question raised that with the prospect of harm coming to our loved ones, what are we prepared to do to protect them with the risk of losing our own humanity. I suppose in many respects it may be inaccurate to describe It Comes At Night as a horror In the traditional sense considering its main conceit, this isn’t some fanciful malignant virus that turns its host into a snarling monster hungry for human flesh, it is a much scarier concept of an unnamed lethal infection and the fear that comes with the possibility of becoming infected. The principal character all wear gas masks and gloves when disposing of those who have succumbed to it, the very real fear of being the next to become infected hanging over their heads. With the modern day threat of very real super viruses such as Ebola existing, it makes the film’s narrative all the more believable and scary.
With a minimal cast, the film relays heavily in their believable performances. Joel Edgerton as the family patriarch is excellent, gruff and distrusting, preoccupied with the safety of his own family, great support turns from Carmen Ejogo and Kelvin Harrison Jr and set more on edge with the arrival of a family in need played by Christopher Abbot, Riley Keough and Griffen Robert Faulkner respectively, Abbot & Keough giving great, desperate performances as a family just trying to survive the same as any other would in their situation.
I would highly recommend this film to those with a love of psychological thrillers. The claustrophobic, slow burning tension coupled with a tightly written story of protecting those you love no matter the cost is a winning formula when delivered this deftly. It may not be a scare a minute thrill ride but it is a classy and measured drama none the less. Highly recommended.