It Comes at Night Movie Review
No, It Comes At Night is not about an evil clown who masturbates on his victims. The confusingly titled thriller—the title apparently refers to a series of seemingly unnecessary dream sequences—has atmosphere you can cut with a knife and is as intense as any thriller out there. It’s also a bit of an empty vessel.
Joel Edgerton stars as a father and husband who has established a delicate life at a home in the woods after a horrific disease has wiped out much of humanity. When another family seeks refuge, he and his family are forced to make difficult decisions to stay alive.
I knew none of this going into the movie—I hadn’t read a description of the film, let alone watched a trailer—and assumed it was going to be a horror movie. Specifically, a demonic thriller. Or a movie about an evil clown who masturbates in the evening hours.
So, when It Comes At Night turned out to be a psychological thriller that’s layered in mood and atmosphere, color me surprised. Writer/director Trey Edward Shults (Krisha) does his best to make the movie feel like a horror movie—the camera pans and winds its way slowly down dark hallways and through eerie woods, and one of the characters suffers from nightmares, which offer a few true “horror” moments—but in the end, it’s a thriller that explores paranoia and isolation.
The movie keeps you breathless at times and is undoubtedly unpredictable. But there’s something missing to the whole affair, or too many red herrings that suggest Shults didn’t ultimately know which way to take the film. It Comes At Night is dark and certainly depressing, but the ending is almost too conventional, too convenient. The movie would have been more interesting had Shults explored some of the side threads he introduces—the son’s sexual attraction to the wife, or empty paranoia—but Shults doesn’t.
It Comes At Night looks amazing and features an intoxicating score, but despite the high level of suspense Shults maintains throughout, the movie isn’t as powerful or as interesting as it should have been.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.