Director: Trey Edward Shults
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo
When the credits rolled at the end of Trey Edward Shults’ It Comes at Night, the entire audience erupted with sound. Not with applause. Not with screams. But with a wave of nervous giggles and awed sighs. After the journey we had collectively experienced, there was no other reaction left to give.
That may be the only piece of concrete fact I can give you about my experience watching this film, and I’m so pleased that’s the case.
This is not a film that is easily interpreted. The conflict, danger, and relationships are all clear enough; it’s the other bits that are so hard to decipher. The rights, the wrongs, the lies, the truths are reminiscent of a Victorian image that simultaneously represents multiple realities. It’s up to you to see what you want to see.
Shults script walks the tightrope of open interpretation so exquisitely that is was painful in the best way possible. A fellow moviegoer even reported hoping at one point that something bad would take place, just so she would have a better handle on how to feel about what was happening.
If you’ve read my other reviews for films that I really liked, you’ll see that I often suggest readers avoid learning much about the film before seeing it (I recognize the irony). I’m doubling down on that suggestion for It Comes at Night. If this is the first that you’re reading about it, make it the last until you see it. Don’t watch the trailer. Don’t read the synopsis. Just go see it.
Whatever you think you’re going to see, this is not it.
I’ll return in a month or so, and we can have a big, messy spoiler-filled discussion at that time.
So what can I talk about if I won’t talk about the movie?
This is only the second feature film by Shults, but he is proving to be a director with emotional depth and a keen eye. Watch his first film, Krisha, if you want to see what he’s capable of (IMDB calls it a “comedy, drama,” but make your own conclusions).
Humanity is a slippery thing and the line between hero and villain is in the eye of the beholder. Go to this film with friends, because you are going to want to talk to someone who has been through the same experience.
It Comes at Night will stick with you long after you leave the theater and is filled with beautiful, horrifying ideas:
We are most dangerous when we are most helpless. We are most ruthless when we are most desperate.
Fear is other people. Fear is helplessness. Fear is unknown. This movie explores them all.