It Comes at Night had one of the most intriguing trailers for a horror movie in 2017. Thankfully, it didn’t give too much away. Still, what it did show suggested that it would deliver a very intense experience.
A highly contagious outbreak has ravaged the world. Paul, his wife Sarah, and their teenage son Travis have secluded themselves in their home deep in the woods in an undisclosed location. When Sarah’s father contracts the disease, they kill him and burn his body in a shallow grave. The next night, they capture an intruder breaking into the house. Paul ties him to a tree and places a bag over his head overnight to confirm he is not suffering from the disease.
The stranger, Will, explains that he did not know the house was occupied and was only searching for fresh water for himself, his wife, and his young son. Will offers to trade some of their supply of food for water. Sarah suggests bringing Will’s family back to their home, reasoning that the more people they have with them, the easier it would be to defend them should anyone else discover their location. Paul agrees, and he takes Will to collect his family. Along the way, they are ambushed by two men. Paul kills them and accuses Will of having set him up. Will points out that he fought them as well.
A few days later, Paul returns along with Will, his wife Kim, and son Andrew. After establishing the rules that Paul and Sarah have used to stay safe, including keeping the only entrance locked with a key Paul or Sarah wear around their neck, and keeping night-time excursions to a minimum, the two families begin to establish a sense of normalcy and grow closer to each other. One day, Travis’s dog Stanley begins barking aggressively at and chases an unseen presence in the woods. Travis follows the dog deeper into the woods before Stanley’s barking suddenly ceases. Travis insists to Paul and Will that he heard something in the woods.
Can the two families continue to co-exist whilst tensions begin to rise?
It Comes at Night is an interesting movie, for lack of a better word. In a lot of ways, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting or hoping it to be. The trailer had me expecting something a little bit different. However, I’m not going to be sit here and tell you that it’s a bad film because it isn’t. It focuses entirely on the people effected by the outbreak and none of the how’s or why’s. I’m not the type of person that needs every single aspect of a movie to be fully explained but It Comes at Night gives you very little. It fully depends on the strength of mystery and imagination to be effective. I’d say that it succeeds and fails at this.
The ways in which the characters interact and react to certain events feels very natural and realistic. If something like this were to happen in real life, I feel like this is how things would go down. I found Travis to be the most interesting character in the movie. He is someone that has been raised in this world and it shows. He continuously has nightmares about becoming infected, it feels very genuine. There is one thing that I cannot fault about It Comes at Night and that is the performances as a whole.
While there are a number of truly intense and effective scenes, these end up feeling rather meaningless when the credits roll. I get it; it’s all about paranoia and the psychological nature of surviving in such a bleak scenario. I understand how it could be interesting to see the ways in which people turn on one another and begin to fall apart but I’m not so sure it is on this occasion.
When I look back at the movie it leaves me feeling like I pretty much witnessed absolutely nothing at all. The things that it does show are up for interpretation and could very well be completely meaningless all together. Like I said, I don’t need all the answers but it gives you nothing. Travis chases his dog into the woods and stares terrified into the camera swearing that he had seen something. The camera pans to the empty forest. Now, either Travis didn’t seen anything or he did. If he did, what could it have been to scare him so much? I love this scenario but ultimately it leads to nothing. All of the really creepy moments ended up feeling like a waste of time on reflection. They are incredibly effective in the moment but lack any form of context.
The characters are written to not question anything but a person definitely would if it were them.
Overall, It Comes at Night asks the viewers to have a little bit of imagination. If you’re only going to watch it once then it works. For me, I have no desire to ever watch it again. I didn’t miss something the first time around, there just wasn’t ever anything there to see in the first place. It’s the type of movie that begged for some kind of twist or swerve but it never comes. Also, I have no idea why it is even called It Comes at Night.
It Comes at Night