It Comes At Night follows a family of three attempting to survive in a secluded house from a vague threat in a seemingly post-apocalyptic world. When another family desperate for help arrives at their doorstep, the dynamics of a forcibly adapted humanity drive decisions that lead to a version of life possibly worse than that which waits in the dark.
It Comes At Night Review
Let's just get this out of the way quick. It Comes At Night is not as original as either Efrit or I had hoped. It is a post-apocalyptic character study. It is of slower pacing, vague dread, and primarily about character development and subtle intrigue. You have seen this before with the likes of Into the Forest, The Road, The Divide, Here Alone, The Battery, Z is for Zachariah, and the ever-popular TV series that takes it to the extremes of character depth, The Walking Dead.
This is quickly forming into its own sub-genre, perpetrated by the zombie craze that hasn't died down much. Zombies have often been used as a vehicle to show that humanity is the true monster when faced with crisis. But now we are exercising every bit of possible behavioral scenarios to which there is little left to scrape off the sides of the proverbial jar. The desperate survival instincts of humanity will conflict with the innate desire for love and morality. This is a concept that, while interesting, has been beaten to death in the past decade. It's difficult to bring a new course to the table that somebody hasn't tasted before.
ICAN struggles with this as it brings an all-too-familiar philosophy. But that doesn't mean it's all bad. The film thrives off its realistic approach to geographical seclusion and the aura of isolation amidst family. The acting and writing are pensive and driven. We feel the characters, we're living in the moments with them. We are understanding the motivation behind (most) decisions. There is substance here to attach yourself to.
The film's character study is seemingly segmented into chapters by the nightmares of the son Travis. These visceral moments of dread are the closest to legitimate horror that we get. These nightmares parallel the internal struggle Travis is experiencing, but also gives us our only glimpse of what "it" might actually be like. We know it's some kind of disease, but there is allusion to some kind of threat the disease poses outside of just illness.
Unfortunately for hardcore horror fans who need more than allusion, great sound design and powerful atmosphere, there is no pay off in regards to "it". This may be a spoiler, I suppose, but it's the kind I'd rather disappoint a potential viewer with now rather than an hour and a half into a screening. For a fan like me, that appreciates the perspective of both the boundary-pushing chaos of legit horror and the drama-thillers that use horror as a tool for humanity and psychology analysis, this film fell on the fence. It felt like it teased too much to not show anything at all. Its flirtations went from sexy to frustrating. Like sitting in a strip club for 4 hours and seeing the shadow behind a curtain. Was that a legit analogy?...Yeah, we'll go with it.
I loved the sound design, it gave the strongest moments of fear. I loved the set, it was claustrophobic and suffocating. I loved the score, it blanketed the experience perfectly. The atmosphere was near-flawless. The characters were real and you felt a lot of emotions from many of them in a relatively short period of time. There was just something missing. And that was probably just a little more "it".
Horror Qualifier: 6/10
Horror Quality: 4/10
Film Quality: 7/10