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Director: Trey Edward Shults
Runtime: 91 minutes
Language: English

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Some Great Thinker once quoted, “Hell is other people.” Trey Edward Shults’ second feature after last year’s domestic drama Krisha doesn’t stray too far from its domestic roots, but plunges its central family into a horror that can only be called Hell on Earth. We don’t know what happened, or didn’t happen, or how things came to be as they are when the movie starts, but the world of It Comes At Night seems to have nosedived into complete societal chaos. Something is out there killing everyone it comes in contact with, and you have a chance to do two things: live by your own selfish wits or die. It is as simple, as brutal as that.

As a matter of fact, it’s so brutal that the film’s opening sequence is probably should set the tone for what we’re about to see: a family, wearing protective gas masks and gloves, gently but with an undertone of steely determination, lifting an old man with festering boils on his skin off from a bed and onto some sheets. The family — Sarah (Carmen Ejogo),  Paul (Joel Edgerton), and Travis (Kelvin Harrison), then drag the moaning older man out into the woods, away from their house’s vicinity, throw him into an open grave, to where Paul proceeds to shoot the man point blank in the head using a pillow to mask the sound. We soon learn this was Sarah’s father, who contracted the feared virus. They return back to the house. Welcome to the New Normal.

Silence and isolation can’t, of course, continue for long, Someone breaks into their house believing it to be empty. Paul is more than ready to kill the intruder, who turns out to be Will (Christopher Abbott), a man with a wife and young son who’s been walking for 50 miles or so to find shelter and food, and after holding him hostage and at the mercy to the elements and whatever is making people sick, and at Sarah’s urging, he decides to accompany Will to search for his family and bring them back to the house, a task that doesn’t come without dangers — since now the law of the land is pure lawlessness.

Once both families come together, the tension eases only for a few scenes, but when one of Will’s stories doesn’t quite check out, Paul immediately reminds Sarah and Travis that they can, no matter how much they’d like to, trust anyone. This turns out to be a problem for Travis, who’s only 17 and strangely drawn to the new family (especially Will’s wife played by Riley Keough) while having stress nightmares of his own which seem to be eroding at his own sanity. And the sheer claustrophobic nature of this house doesn’t help matters. While outside shots indicate the house can fit well above six people, all we get are narrow as fuck hallways lit only by battery operated lamps and deeply shadowed rooms offering no warmth and a lot of enhanced paranoia.

As a matter of fact, the entire movie is a claustrophobic nightmare — the woods seem to creep towards you, roads are winding and sinister, and even daylight can’t seem to bring any sort of comfort. You can almost feel eyes all over the place, watching you from a distance, ready to pounce.

So, what is it that comes at night? We never truly know, and again, this is my kind of horror — the type that firstly, never tries to explain itself too much (although we do get a brief glimpse at a painting by Brueghel which drives the collapse of humanity home. Secondly, it is nihilistic to a fault. Every character is living solely out for there bare survival. Innocence has checked out, hope is merely a word, and even smiles on a face look furtive and nervous, and there is that awful door at the end of the hallway that Shults keeps panning towards and through. I’ve never seen anything like this, and it alone gave me chills.

I like my horror as esoteric as it can be — no Annabelle for me (It was shown as one of the coming attractions and I’ll gladly skip it’s sudden flourish of shrieking sound and the doll’s jerky movements, thank you). Nothing is as horrific as what man can do to another man through the terrors that live within his mind, and to be honest, This remarkable film comes at the perfect time in Trump’s governance, where society risks on becoming a savage rendition of every man for himself and kill anything that may seem to be a threat. If you don’t walk out of the theater with a knot to your stomach, then you must be a psychopath.

It Comes At Night opens in wife release June 9.