When a mysterious disease hits the city, Paul alongside his wife, Sarah, and their teenage son, Travis, retreat to a home in the countryside. In this forested area, they have made a life for themselves far away from civilisation, until one day, a man named Will comes and asks for help. Deciding that having more people there will allow them to better defend themselves against threat, Paul invites Will to bring his family to the house.
There is much to admire in It Comes At Night, which accomplishes much in its 91 minute running length, though feels oddly dissatisfying at the end. So far it’s been getting a good reception critically but hasn’t had much success at the box office. The latter may be the result of it not being what you’d immediately expect of the horror genre, but that actually works to its advantage.
As is essential to any horror film, the sound design is exquisite, and the movie carries hints of sub-genres like the zombie film and haunted house movie while still feeling like its own. The camerawork down corridors and through doors will have the audience on edge. It’s a film that manages to get under your skin within minutes, and will have you feeling jumpy and nerve wrecked by the end. Any horror fan couldn’t ask for more.
When it comes to the cast, there’s something classic and comforting about Joel Edgerton in the leading role. He’s a man’s man and a woman’s man, strong yet sensitive, authoritative and protective, and has a similar function here to his turn in Loving. Christopher Abbott gives an appropriately enigmatic performance as Will while Riley Keough, after recently starring in Mad Max and American Honey, is growing from strength to strength. The standout performer, however, is 22-year-old Kelvin Harrison Jr., who also has the most screen time. Forever watching and observing (to the point of stalking), we view the world through his tormented perspective and share his sense of terror.
In the film’s ending, there is something of a sense of incompletion and lack of roundedness, which may be owing to the fact that it’s actually too short at an hour and a half. There’s also lack of clarity in the conclusion which makes it appear more open than it actually is. It is a good and well-directed horror movie slash psychological thriller, but after the likes of Get Out, Raw and Split earlier this year (with Annabelle Creation and It still to come), It Comes At Night faces stiff competition among the 2017 output.