Combustible Celluloid
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With: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Griffin Robert Faulkner, David Pendleton
Written by: Trey Edward Shults
Directed by: Trey Edward Shults
MPAA Rating: R for violence, disturbing images, and language
Running Time: 91
Date: 06/09/2017

It Comes at Night (2017)

3 Stars (out of 4)

In Sickness and in Stealth

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Filmmaker Trey Edward Shults, who made the powerful, harrowing Krisha, returns with a dark movie that's meticulously crafted and highly intelligent, but relentlessly pessimistic and deeply unsettling.

In It Comes at Night, a mysterious, deadly disease has ravaged the land. Former teacher Paul (Joel Edgerton) has set up a fortress in the woods, complete with a stock of food and water, where he lives with his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and teen son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Unfortunately, they have just had to shoot and burn Travis's grandfather, sick with the disease.

One night, a strange man, Will (Christopher Abbott) breaks into the house; it turns out he's not sick and was simply looking for food for his family. Paul decides to let him, his wife (Riley Keough) and young son, stay. But something goes wrong. The family dog Stanley runs off into the woods, and then the little boy begins acting weirdly. Will Paul's stronghold withstand whatever is coming next?

It Comes at Night has been advertised as a horror movie, and it's certainly horrific, but it's not scary and is not something that genre fans will find enjoyable. It defies any other categories as well; it's not really a thriller (it's not thrilling) and it's barely a sci-fi movie (it's apocalyptic, but not futuristic).

It depicts humanity in the darkest and most brutal of ways, without a shred of hope or goodness. And yet it's an exceptional movie, with incredible use of sounds and movement, light and shadow, conjuring up a vivid, visceral world. The Travis character, unable to sleep, wanders the house at night, lighting weird angles with a lantern, and listening to muffled sounds from an upstairs perch. There's a constant sense of uncertainty and unease, as we realize that the greatest threats are not the ones that can be seen, or even heard banging on the red door.

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