Psychological Thriller starring Joel Edgerton. The world has changed, a serious biological threat has changed the way our lives have to be lived, society has broken down. Deep in the woods a family is surviving through the harsh rules that they have set out. When someone breaks into their house looking for food it’s a case of help them or not, either choice has consequences.
Joel Edgerton is one of my favourite performers of the last 20 years. Every role that he plays brings something new out of him, we’ve seen his craft develop within him, but that’s not the big reason I love watching him on-screen. Every role you see him play it is different, take this year for example, in It Comes at Night you have a post event survivor, but earlier in the year you had one half of a couple fighting for their love in Loving. You would not be able to tie this actor to both roles if you didn’t know his name. He’s that good.
While It Comes at Night is far from the powerful impact that Loving had there are many great things to enjoy. But I want to clear up something that the trailer deceived us on. This is not a horror movie. It’s 28 Days later without the Zombies. The illness that has changed the world is not a zombie virus, the threat comes more from the minds of those just trying to survive. Don’t think of this as a horror, rather than a psychological thriller. There is an almost prophetic dream by the son of Paul and Sarah, Travis that throw you off the scent of where the film is going. But as you don’t know where the film is going to lead you to you almost forgive them. Travis is the other stand out performance with Kelvin Harrison Jnr showing a young lad trying to cope with nothing other than his parents and living day-to-day.
You can cut the atmosphere with a knife, it’s that thick, and you start to feel the paranoia that the characters are going through. The film sets its stall out early doors with the opening scene where the Grandfather of the family, heavily infected with the disease, is taking his final breaths. From there you understand every ounce of tension that each of the family members are going through. Even when the stranger who breaks in for food for their own family comes into the story you identify with them as well. The performances outside of Joel are just good enough to carry the film to the finishing point. There are one or two moments where I thought that a little more explanation would have gone down well, but at other times the vague nature of the backstory works for the film. It reminded me of a film last year called The Survivalist, but goes further with the stakes, and upping the level of violence. The cut throat nature of the psyche of the survivors leads to hard choices that you and I would have to mull over, being made in the blink of an eye.
The running time of It Comes at Night helps add to the punchy feeling of the film, but you feel there may be extra scenes left on the cutting room floor that would have aided the story a little. If they had just placed in the smallest explanation of what happened before things got to this point then it would have made things a little clearer, also when an animal gets hurt there are no reasons given, it just happens, That doesn’t take away that this is the most tense, atmospheric, and gripping movie of the summer.
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Writer: Trey Edward Shults (screenplay)
Stars: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo and more