It Comes at Night Screen 68 of 14 reviews

It Comes at Night

2017

It Comes at Night Poster
  • Shults’s thriller also fully exploits the potential for dread in its isolated forest setting, albeit with a surprising degree of elegance thanks to cinematographer Drew Daniels’s use of Steadicam and wise tendency to slow down his camera movements when the action may suggest something more frantic.

  • ...Of course, Bruegel’s painting [The Triumph of Death] reimagines a real historical horror—he was alive for two major recurrences of the plague known as the Black Death—while Shults’ film imagines a possible future we can only hope never arrives. But both creators are attempting to look hard at the worst experiences the world has to offer while not losing their faith in humanity, and both of them—the one with a paintbrush and the one with a camera—are in total control of their art.

  • If “Krisha” was a harrowing psychodrama rendered in a splintery John Cassavetes syntax, “It Comes at Night” portrays a different kind of breakdown, one etched in dim light and implacable shadows... The horror rises from a deeper, subtler place, which makes it all the harder to shake off.

  • In writer-director Trey Edward Shults’s It Comes at Night, a soul-crushingly dark examination of human nature amid an invisible and unnatural threat, human life remains intact in but one house in the forest, one with a blazingly red door secured with heavy brass locks.

  • The subtlety of Shults’ screenplay lies in the slow unveiling of what or who actually poses a threat to this status quo. More hazardous than the deadly disease is the penetration of the family unit the influences of Will and his wife, their presence embodying an increasingly symbolic danger: Will as a threat to Paul’s pride and authority, and Kim as an object of sexual fantasy and desire. The battle ahead is not physical, but ideological.

  • The movie has its flaws. But one of Shults’s main triumphs is to get us to believe in the danger of the outside world as fiercely as his characters do. Another is getting us to believe in the characters themselves: their fears, their devastation. That’s powerful. And if the emotional pivots of Shults’s movie sometimes feel overfamiliar, it’s gratifying to watch his style try to evoke something new.

  • The movie is somber and disquieting, a muted, blinking beacon of hopelessness. The craft behind it is admirable. You may find yourself enjoying the picture's skillfulness even as you hope it will be over soon. In the end, its notions of what it means to trust--and to betray--make it feel like an overworked humanities exercise. But that doesn't negate its sober spookiness. The half-glimpsed terrible thing in our own backyard might not be as terrible as what's already in the house.

  • Because the expertly crafted atmosphere is not backed up by story or narrative development, the film ultimately feels more like an exercise in (very good) style than a fully realised film. Laudable story and themes are enunciated as marks of intent, rather than truly felt and explored. As such, watching It Comes at Night often feels less like experiencing a film than it does observing a director construct one.

  • Its "atmospheric" qualities are impressive. Yet, even while I admire its bleak reticence and recognize how it aims to serve a productive ambiguity, I left wanting more. More what, exactly, I still can't quite say. The film needn't sketch out every detail of its world; it doesn't have to provide explanations. The way everything plays out feels, nevertheless, a little too schematic and close-to-the-vest.

  • Combined with a dynamite trailer and a slew of generous reviews, that might be enough to draw opening weekend crowds. Once audiences get into theaters, is the movie substantial or entertaining enough to keep them there? It may depend upon their capacity for predictable morbidity. Shults fails to show us anything happening after dark that doesn’t also occur in the daytime.

  • Ideally, this terrifying ambiguity would open the film up beyond its carefully worked-over symbolism and coyly withholding dramaturgy and connect it to some kind of larger and terrifying observation about the world, and yet all it really does is shrink things back down to the far less interesting question of whether the latest in a line of skillful, naggingly prefab American thrillers has any real there there.

  • Every film about societal collapse is, in part, a political allegory; the causes of civilizational decline are nearly always a result of human decisions, and if they’re not, human nature reveals itself in the aftermath of said decline. But Shults so assiduously strips elements of politics and history from It Comes at Night’s characters that they come to seem like empty husks. What’s left is a strangely hollow genre exercise, at once distinctive and utterly bereft of identity or interiority.

  • This modest science-fiction thriller brings the hands-on vigor of independent filmmaking to a high-concept premise, but the results are insubstantial and impersonal... The cinematography by Drew Daniels, with its bold low-light effects and eerily gliding camera work, maintains a mood of dread, and Shults deftly manages the glances and the gazes of silent fears and unspoken longings. But the film builds its tension through artificial silences that keep the characters as blank as chess pieces.

  • The action remains vague, and the monotonously somber line readings prevent the dialogue from achieving any sense of dynamism. These stylistic flourishes have the effect of saying to the audience,"“Stop and think about this," regardless of whether the movie provides much to think about. I was still bothered by the its sense of self-importance on a second viewing, and I don't think that Edgerton's performance or Shults's observations of patriarchal control are enough to justify it.

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