Honestly, this does look pretty good. So far, it’s shrouded in mystery. I have no idea what it is that’s causing these sicknesses. It looks like it has some firm rules, some smart and possibly likable characters that understand the score. Although the tar-drool is something we’ve seen time and again, I do really like that I have no idea what’s going on, or what starts the shit hitting the fan.
Let’s look at this cast. Starring, we have the incredible Joel Edgerton, known for LOVING (2016), THE GIFT (2015), and THE THING (2011). In support alongside him, we have Christopher Abbott (WHISKEY TANGO FOXTROT , A MOST VIOLENT YEAR , and TV show GIRLS), Carmen Ejogo (ALIEN: COVENANT , FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM , and THE PURGE: ANARCHY ), and Riley Keough (AMERICAN HONEY , MAD MAX: FURY ROAD , and MAGIC MIKE ).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing is Trey Edward Shults, known for stuff I’ve never heard of, mostly short films. Composing the score is Brian McOmber, known for stuff I’ve never heard of. Finally, the cinematographer is Drew Daniels, also known for projects I’ve never heard of. Although, all these men have worked together before.
Overall, I’m very interested in seeing what this movie’s got up its sleeve. Maybe it won’t be overly scary, but the suspense and mystery are effective. So let me at it.
This is my honest opinion of: IT COMES AT NIGHT
An unknown pandemic has been sweeping over the big cities causing people to get sick. The story follows a modest family, Paul (Joel Edgerton), his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), and their teen son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), who are living in a house in the woods, far away from it all in an attempt to be safe. However, they’re still recovering after having been forced to kill Travis’ grandfather, Bud (David Pendleton) when he contracts the sickness. Not long after, the family encounters a man named Will (Christopher Abbott), who breaks into their home looking for supplies to take care of his own family; his wife Kim (Riley Keough) and their young son, Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner). After misunderstandings are squared away, it’s decided to allow Will and his family to stay with Paul and his to try and coexist.
Perhaps it’d be best to put this out there now… it’s not a horror film. At least, not by any conventional means anyone else would understand. I would say this is more of a suspense film, akin to THE WITCH (2016). It’s not scary, but there’s disturbing imagery, well-written characters that you empathize with, and leaves you with stuff to think about. Maybe not quite as much, but something.
First thing’s first, it’s good. I’m not sure if I’m in love with it like the critics seem to be, but I think it’s good and I like it.
Right off the bat, you’re left with an incredibly unsettling feeling when the first frame pops up. All you see is an old man who looks like he’s ready to turn into a zombie and hear muffled voice and the old man isn’t paying attention at all. He gets carted out in a wheel barrow, gets shot in the head by Paul, put in a hole, and burnt, all while Travis the grandson is watching. Ho…ly… shit. What a way to start.
However, in retrospect, this does pave the way for my first eye-twitch of the movie. We later learn that Sarah feels guilty about Travis seeing that horror and that Paul couldn’t do it all by himself. Two issues. One, so… why didn’t she help Paul? The old man wasn’t a three-hundred pound tub of mayo, he was a scrawny guy. Kind of a gut, but he couldn’t weigh more than two-hundred pounds. Two, she subjected her son to a pretty terrible thing to bare witness to. Again, why did she hang back? This isn’t really addressed, or not addressed well. Three, what couldn’t Paul do by himself. Maybe loading a body onto the wheel barrow, but that’s a stretch to believe considering how fit the man is. But he didn’t need another set of hands to carry the wheel barrow, he wouldn’t need a set to dig the ditch, or to roll the body into said ditch, or to light it on fire, or to bury it. What needed two people? What did I miss, if anything?
But right after this, the movie gets really well-made. The dialog is either nonexistent, or it’s sparing. All you see is each of them processing what they had to do and they each seem to be taking it differently. It’s brilliantly haunting.
It’s not long before the movie starts picking up speed again by throwing in an intruder, who ends up being Will. I’m actually going to take a minute and talk about the next brilliant thing this movie does, which is throw good people into horrible situations and how even the most rational and well-meaning people can make bad decisions. There is no bad guy here, other than desperation for survival and the need to protect one’s family. Even though things between Paul and Will start off rocky as hell, and Paul hammers in the whole “you can’t trust anyone” mentality, you never get the impression that Will is ever hiding anything. He really is on the up and up. He’s no different than Paul. A series of misunderstandings, sure, but they eventually get along.
I’m going to call it out, I think most audiences expecting a horror film will call this movie slow and uneventful. I personally think the pacing is just fine. This is primarily because the characters are enjoyable. Paul is a history teacher who jokes about knowing a lot about the Roman Empire and Will’s done construction, demolitions, and other stuff. The great thing is that these people feel like they’re real people. There’s no elaborate backstory about Will being a discharged Marine or Paul being a reformed abusive drunk, none of the drama gets overblown. They’re normal people doing what they can to survive this outbreak. It’s refreshing beyond belief.
When things turn dicey and Andrew gets sick. Will and Kim know what Paul would do, so their first reaction is high-tail it and run. And when Travis tells his parents that Andrew may be sick, their first reaction is to verify. At first, everything makes sense and there’s no fault in anyone’s motivations. Having said that, I think this climax is a bit… over-dramatic, to a degree. I know that Paul needs to take precautions, believing that even if he let Will go with food and water, there’s the chance that if they run out, they’ll come back for more. But maybe I’m just a dude who believes in seeing the good in people who earn it, but I doubt Will would do that. I thoroughly believe that he would have left and the two families would never have seen each other again. But I also wouldn’t have stuck around to pack food. I would have known to leave that and just take my family away. By taking the food, it raises the chances of shit hitting the fan and getting someone killed… you know, like my wife and kid. Which is exactly what happened.
Ultimately, this is probably missing the point. All of this was happening in a matter of minutes and everyone was simply reacting the only way they knew how. There wasn’t a whole lot of time to think things through. Like I said, even when two sets of well-meaning people who are more than reasonable people will ultimately make mistakes. A bad situation is sometimes just a bad situation.
Ultimately, the movie’s good. It’s not great, though. There’s some questionable character choices, plot events that aren’t explained in any way, and… I’m not entirely sure why the title is what it is. “It comes at night?” Nothing comes at night in this movie. Unless I seriously missed something. But it’s got great character-building, creates solid tension that makes you question where the story will go, among many other things. It’s a well-crafted movie and I think it’s worth seeing if you enjoy tension more than cheap jump scares. It’s not exactly a must-see, or anything, but if you’re curious, I’d say give it a shot.
My honest rating for IT COMES AT NIGHT: 4/5