It Comes at Night. A Review
Did you know that right now, no matter where you are you can walk out your front door and throw a small stone or tennis ball and hit someone directly in the head who LOVED the 2015 horror/thriller The Witch. In my opinion they deserve the strike to the dome as I think the best way to describe The Witch is a waste of time. Now before I alienate the small readership I am clinging to, the movie that continued to come into my head during It Comes at Night was The Witch, so take that for what it is, and while I did like It Comes at Night a little bit better than The Witch, both movies suffer from the same problems of being slow and a lack of a satisfying conclusion.
It Comes at Night keeps it's plot and story pretty vague in the trailers and TV spots so I would like to keep that going but I will go over the basic outline. There is something making people sick, how far reaching and severe the problem is will remain a secret in this review. We don't exactly know how the disease is spread but direct contact with infected seems to be a good way to do it. A man named Paul with his wife Sarah and their son Travis live in a remote house in the middle of the woods and are trying to stay as secluded as they can, until one day they get a visitor.
If you know me well enough you have probably heard me ramble on about the importance of simplicity of setting and plot in movies and how the smaller and more claustrophobic the stronger the movie, especially in the horror genre. Now I still stand by this for the most part, see The Shining, Ex Machina and Alien for examples. It Comes at Night has utilized this tactic but never takes advantage of this fully and now we move onto the complaining portion of this review.
Those three movies I mentioned in the previous paragraph all gave you a very specific feeling that It Comes At Night never does, and that is the feeling of being trapped with a monster. You never feel like Dallas crawling through air ducts as the Xenomorph beeps closer every second, you never feel like Shelly Duval in the bathtub, gripping a knife while the man she loves breaks down the bathroom door with an axe so he can rip her to shreds. To be fair these are two of the greatest horror movies of all time but why not strive for greatness?
Speaking of a lack of quality tense scenes, there are actually few "horror" scenes in this movie and when there is the payoff is not often satisfying. I had a feeling It Comes at Night would be a little more on the thriller side of the fence, but it is being marketed as a horror movie and that is really not what it is. Like The Witch the horror really comes from the declining mental health of the characters and the cabin fever that ultimately sets in, but even The Witch pulled this idea off better.
Keeping with the similarities with The Witch, probably the best thing in both movies is the cinematography. Both look really great and use negative space well which adds to the story. Both Trey Edward Schults and Robert Eggers definitely know how to shoot a good looking movie, I just think they should spend a little more time in the writers room and less time scouting locations.
I don't want to talk about the characters much for two reasons... 1. I want to spoil as little as possible and 2. they are pretty boring. I did however want to mention the star of the movie Mr. Joel Edgerton. This guy is a beast and has been good in just about ever movie he has been in for the past 3 years. The Gift, Black Mass, Midnight Special and Loving have all featured great performances from Edgerton and I think this is just the start for a very talented actor who makes every movie he is in that much better.
Well I don't really have much more to say about It Comes at Night....oh wait I forgot something, terrible title. Unless I am missing something the title has nothing solid to do with the movie. Some events take place at night, but that is like, half of the time in a day. By this logic every horror movie could be titled It Comes at Night and alot of movies would fit the title better. I like this movie a bit more than I did The Witch, I thought It Comes at Night had more quality tense scenes, was better written, although not by much and the performance of the lead actor being stronger. I can't recommend people go see this movie, but it is not a bad one. If I have possibly piqued your interest or you just feel so strongly that this is your movie then check it out, but It Comes at Night will not be on the best of the year lists, at least not mine.