Horror doesn’t always have to be jump scare after jump scare, with devils or serial killers coming after the protagonists at every turn. The genre is diverse. It’s usually boiled down to very simple premises, most of which are mimicked and replicated with new scares, but every so often, a film comes along that breaks that apart. They become their own thing. It Comes At Night does just that. The film is a horror movie in the loosest sense, but a horror movie nonetheless. You might not be kept up late at night or forced to put a light on as you drift off to sleep, but when in the moment, seated in a dark auditorium, the film got my blood pumping and my pulse rising.
Will (Christopher Abbott), his wife Kim (Riley Keough) and their son Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner) arrive seeking refuge and water. Where their allegiances lie remain to be seen. It’s a never-ending game of paranoia, lies and a fear of the unknown as the two families untie forces in a world gone to shit. Paul’s perspective on life is twisted and full of mistrust. He picks up on every detail, and makes for a fascinating protagonist in this dark and mysterious thriller that slowly unravels its shocking secrets. Nothing ever feels okay, and the mood and atmosphere of every environment always benefits the scene at hand. It’s not entirely consistent; moments of bonding are necessary but occasionally out of place, but whatever scene’s currently being played works within the moment.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this movie since the credits started rolling. It’s unconventional and open ended. You can take the plot and analyse it for hours, and even then, a logical conclusion may not see the light. I’m yet to read the plot theories I presume are floating around the Internet, but there’s so much to soak in and think about that an answer for everything seems impossible. This is, on the one hand, a clever plot device. The film lingers in your mind and creates a need for discussion. But, as well, it can get a little too ambiguous for its own good. One moment in particular, a moment I won’t spoil, lacks any sense of purpose or explanation. It happens, raising the stakes and tension, but its reasons as to how are severely lacking.
A character-driven, dialogue based horror film is a rare find, but It Comes At Night embraces every aspect of it. Built with a fantastic script, captured with stunning simplicity and acted out through flawless performances, this overly-ambiguous movie doesn’t always mash as well it should, and leaves a little too much for the imagination, but was able to hold my attention from start to finish. The more time spent thinking about it, the more layers I unfold. I love this movie. It’s not perfect, but it’s exactly what you want from sophisticated horror.
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