It Comes At Night: Fear and paranoia set the stage for this thriller


With the release of Lionsgate’s It Comes At Night on Blu-ray, we take a look back at one of the most talked about films of the year.

It Comes At Night is the latest film from director Trey Edward Shults and is one of the more intense and riveting films I have seen this past year. The film stars Joel Edgerton (The Gift), Christopher Abbott (“Girls”), Carmen Ejogo (Alien: Covenant), Riley Keough (Mad Max: Fury Road), and Kelvin Harrison Jr. (The Birth of a Nation).

When I first saw this movie, I had been swept into the hype that was surrounding it. Unfortunately, when the film ended, I was left confused and slightly irritated. From all the marketing I had witnessed prior, I had expected to go into a straight-forward horror film, but what I had watched wasn’t that at all and honestly, I didn’t know what to make of it. My only takeaway at the time was that it was well acted, beautifully shot, and had some of the best tension I had seen on screen all year; but what I couldn’t figure out, at least at the time, was what the message of this film was supposed to be.

Now that the Blu-ray has arrived, I decided to give the film another whirl and re-watch it with a different perspective. Instead of going in thinking I was about to watch a pure horror film, I decided to go in with the notion that I was going to experience a high art psychological thriller. With that said, my experience watching the film a second time was much more enjoyable than the first. At it’s core, this film is about human nature and what humanity is capable of when presented with extreme circumstances.

Riley Keough (“Kim”) and Griffin Robert Faulkner (“Andrew”) star in Lionsgate Home Entertainment’s IT COMES AT NIGHT

It Comes At Night focuses primarily on a family in the midst of an unnatural threat that is affecting the entire world. Locked in their desolate cabin in the woods, they try to maintain a semblance of their former life until a young man and his family arrive seeking shelter. This sparks a chain reaction resulting in paranoia taking hold of all those involved with horrific consequences. Is there horror to this film? Absolutely, but it’s nestled under so many other poignant messages that at times it gets lost.

One of the highlights of the film is the acting from everyone that appears on screen. However, the stand out performance really goes to Kelvin Harrison Jr., who plays Travis, the son of Paul (Edgerton) and Sarah (Ejogo). Through the course of the movie we see events unfold through his eyes, the eyes of a sixteen year old, as he struggles to understand what his life has become while still going through the changes that a teenager would face — especially those which have sexual connotations to them.

Along with Harrison, Edgerton is just as captivating as the patriarch of the household, Paul. He’s the one that sets the rules and all those who live under his roof must abide by them. Ejogo rounds out the family as Paul’s wife Sarah. Though on the outside she may seem to be the most forgiving, she has a strength and ferocity when her family’s life becomes in jeopardy.

Kelvin Harrison, Jr. as Travis – Courtesy of Lionsgate

This film is intense, and though I wished more of the horror aspects were explained (i.e. what was causing the disease, what is in the woods, what was IT???), I found myself having a much deeper appreciation for the film after a second watch. There’s a lot to mull over and a lot of hidden (and not so hidden) meanings woven throughout the film that only appear after numerous viewings. But at the forefront this movie dissects the idea of fear and paranoia as it boils over leaving those who have been sucked into the film breathless and on the edge of their seat.

All in all, I’m glad that I gave It Comes At Night another shot. It’s still not one of my favorite films of the year, but there is something special about it that I think I will come to appreciate the more I watch it. I did view some of the special features where the director talks in length about the film and what it means and I think that helped in forming my new opinion of the movies.

Next: Revisiting the horror/comedy The Cabin in the Woods

One of these days, if I ever have the time, I would like to watch it again with the director’s commentary as I feel it will give me a deeper insight into what this film really means. Until then, I definitely suggest people give It Comes At Night a watch, just be prepared for a film that doesn’t follow conventional horror rules.

It Comes At Night is now available to own on Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD from Lionsgate.