It Comes At Night  is the latest horror film from writer and director Trey Edward Shults – a complete change in tone from his previous comedy drama Krisha. Production company A24 (alongside their snazzy logo) are responsible for some of the greatest films of recent memory – Moonlight, Enemy, 20th Century Women, Ex Machina – just to name a few. So, with that in mind, I had high hopes for It Comes At Night; wanting for it to mix up the horror genre.
“We scare because we care” When it comes to horror films, one of the defining features is definitely a ‘scare factor’ or simply ‘does the film frighten you?’ Trying to answer this question proved extremely difficult since I was left in shock after watching the film completely disturbed and frozen. I was so engrossed in the storytelling that I didn’t take my eyes of the screen and watched in suspense. This can all be influenced by excellence in filmmaking.
Triumphant: Joel Edgerton (actor and producer) is, I believe, a very underrated actor in mainstream Hollywood. Even in films such as Warrior or Black Mass, Edgerton is never centre-stage. It is only recently where he has become a leading man in It Comes At Night and last year’s Loving in which Edgerton proved more than capable as the leading man. The plot remains enigmatic for the majority of the film so there is minimal need for the characters to act as advancement – their purpose tends to be purely focused on character development. Even the supporting characters are fully fleshed out (as much as they can be within a mystery genre). Carmen Ejogo, Christopher Abbot, and Riley Keough are all brilliant in their respective roles and help provide the tension.
Disturbia: In many scenes, the lack of music and focus on ambient sounds helps raise the tension. And with this tension present, I was unable to look away - even the gross-out imagery didn’t stop me from being utterly engrossed. Unlike a multitude of horror films, It Comes At Night doesn’t rely on crescendo scores before a scare because actions simply ‘happen’. This contributes to the disturbing nature of the film as everything feels so unnatural of the horror genre.
Super Smart: Shults hides everything from the audience. Nothing is revealed and everything is unclear. To some audiences, this can be frustrating and seen as lazy, but to others, it appears intelligent because enigma codes can keep the audience constantly engaged. Personally, I liked the sense of unclarity. It treats the audience as an intellectual and causes them to think about what is happening onscreen often creating different interpretations of the outcome. It Comes At Night is definitely a different kind of horror film. And rather than relying on a generic plot with predictable jump scares, it elevates the expectations and becomes something unique.
Physically unable to look away (despite the grueling imagery) is a rare experience. Trey Edward Shults and A24 once again deliver.
Related: The film It Comes at Night is featured on Borrowing Tape's "Best Films of 2017" list.