“You can’t trust anyone but family…”
So many horror films follow predictable tropes and well worn plot twists. When something genuinely horrifying arrives then, it really stands out. Get Out has received all the plaudits in the underworld of horror this year but It Comes at Night wins the battle of the psychological horrors for me.
This is one of those films where the less you know going in, the better, so in terms of plot I will keep things simple. Paul (Joel Edgerton) will stop at nothing to protect his family in the midst of a deadly but vague virus. This ambiguity is what makes It Comes at Night so effective. We are never truly in possession of all the facts. It’s not just the motives of the characters that remain a mystery, but also the time period, location and even lay out of the family home that remains elusive. This allows the viewers imagination to fill in the blanks, and nothing is more frightening than what is conjured from the dark abyss of your own soul.
Joel Edgerton is an actor I find to be inconsistent but he does well here. This is by no means a vehicle for the Australian actor however with Girls’ Christopher Abbott adding to the subtle feeling that something is off with an enigmatic performance. Building tension and suspense only works if you care about the characters and It Comes at Night plays the long game to perfection before building to a powerful and visceral conclusion. This is not a film for ghosts, zombies or ghouls, in the world of It Comes at Night there is nothing more threatening than human nature, nothing more dangerous than paranoia.
The great strength of It Comes at Night is not the riddles that are solved but the questions that are left hanging. The unresolved penny dreadful will always linger longer than finding the murderer covered in blood. Director Trey Edward Shults understands this and the result is an original, intelligent and nerve wracking horror experience.