Independent horror has been having a bit of a resurgence these days, as I’ve spoken of over the past couple of years. Auteur driven scares are on the rise, even if studios are largely still trying to bank on reboots, remakes, and sequels. This week, an original outing comes our way when It Comes At Night hits theaters, hoping to scare not just indie audiences, but the moviegoing populace at large. The recent tradition started by the likes of The Babadook, It Follows, and The Witch, to name three, will likely continue here. This flick is going to develop quite the following.
The film is a chamber piece, set in the aftermath of some sort of apocalyptic event. Paul (Joel Edgerton) keeps himself and his family alive using a very strict set of rules. These rules apply to everyone, even said family. It has protected his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) for years now, even at a great cost, as established in the opening sequence. When a desperate husband and father in Will (Christopher Abbott) tries to break into their home looking for surprise, Paul and Sarah take pity on him. After feeling him out, they invite Will to bring his wife Kim (Riley Keough) and young son to live with them. Things are initially fine, but soon tensions rise and tragedy becomes inevitable. The best of intentions will only go so far, especially with evil lurking just around the corner. Trey Edward Shults writes and directs here, with the small supporting cast also including Griffin Robert Faulkner and David Pendleton. Atmospheric cinematography comes from Drew Daniels, while the haunting score is by Brian McOmber.
Though I’m not quite as fond of it as most, the movie is a definite showcase for filmmaker Shults. He’s a future A-lister, of that I have very little doubt. He also gets another top notch performance out of Edgerton, while Abbott, Ejogo, and Keough are strong as well. As for Harrison Jr., he’s solid, though the script uses him in an odd way. Shults is, at this point to me, a strong director than he is a writer, so this is mostly atmosphere with a letdown of a story. Still, the tension is effective and palpable. This is a good film, just not a great one.
Despite a prestige cast, don’t expect It Comes At Night to contend for any awards, outside of maybe the Independent Spirit Awards. More likely, look for the movie to simply play well with its core audience, with anything else just a bonus. The Spirit Awards could go for him like they’ve gone for It Follows and The Witch recently, but that certainly remains to be seen. More so than anything else, it’s just a calling card for Shults. Anything other than that, aside from a solid potential run at the box office, is little more than icing on the proverbial cake.
Starting tomorrow, audiences can begin seeing A24’s latest fright flick when It Comes At Night opens. The film is a tension filled white knuckle experience, and if the trailer suggested something different, that’s just how it is sometimes. Shults is going places, so if you’re on the lookout for a new genre filmmaker to follow, he’s one to focus in on. This movie will surprise you, one way or another, so if horror is your thing, this is something to look forward to. The wait is short, but the post screening discussions likely will be longer. Give it a shot and see what you think…
Be sure to check out It Comes At Night, in theaters tomorrow.