An unnamed apocalyptic event forces two families to survive together in Trey Edward Shults’ It Comes At Night. The rules are simple. The front door remains bolted shut. Only go outside in pairs. And never at night. Naturally, all three commandments are blatantly dismissed yet none of those transgressions lead to a building of a frightful drama.
Beautifully shot with horrific claustrophobia, unfortunately the narrative is more snoozefest than thriller.
It Comes At Night crawls at a zombie pace yet unlike the unstoppable undead there is no face to this fear and in this film’s case, the imagined threat is lacking.
Joel Edgerton stars as the father figure of a small family barricaded in a large house on a seemingly larger property. He slowly accepts Will (Christopher Abbott) and his equally-small family into the house in order for both to survive on their meager-yet-sustainable resources. As with any tight-knit thriller, paranoia grows as the threat outside encroaches. Yet neither truly happen. The perceived external threat is as solid as vaporware; the interior a masochistic misunderstanding that is more laughable than despondent.
Shults has all the ingredients of a successful genre-breaker lined up in his editing suite. Tightly-wound characters. Internal and external threats. Fear of the unknown. And a cute dog. His photography is on-the-mark creepy and the Bernard Herrmann-esque score by Brian McOmber is truly fitting. What got lost in the process was a moving script. The characters do nothing. The perceived threat is no more menacing than a New England garden party. And too many unanswered questions resulting in a shoulder shrug rather than a what’s next zinger. More Lucy; less The Thing.
What comes at night? Perhaps the realization of mankind’s fallacy with the reliance of late-night pizza delivery. Other than that, only Shults knows. And clearly he ain’t telling.