What’s left unseen can be just as terrifying as anything on screen. I just got home from the movie theater. My mind, body and soul feel restless after experiencing Trey Edward Shults’ It Comes at Night. This is a horror film like no other because it earns our fear by making horror recognizable. Without the intention of satiating the audiences’ baser instincts, Shults is able to use atmosphere to inform a common theme in the characters’ choices and emotional state-of-mind: family and paranoia. I cared and empathized with these people, even when it was hard to. Every beat and frame of It Comes at Night is gracefully filled with endless dread; a feeling that intensifies throughout the film, beginning from the chilling opening sequence. I feel just as uncertain, paranoid and hopeless as the family we initially spend time with (Will, Sarah and Travis). I came into this seemingly post-apocalyptic world as a visitor, with no knowledge of who these families are and what they’re facing; observing these people’s actions as a voyeur but through a very distinct, psychological lense. The subtle interplay between surrealism and realism, specifically seen through the perspective of the young troubled protagonist (Travis) and Shults’ expertly restrained screenplay, make It Comes At Night a remarkable piece of cinema.
I am not surprised by the artful quality to this horror film. It’s actually Trey Edward Shults’ second feature-film. His first feature, Krisha, is a character study and also a micro-budget knockout. Interestingly enough, I was watching it last year and was immediately impressed by Shults’ very unique and impeccable pacing (i.e. camera rhythm, editing). Krisha is not a horror film, but after watching it I strongly believed that this skilled writer/director needs to make a horror film. Well…the rest is history for Trey Edward Shults.
It Comes At Night is by far the best horror film of 2017 (stronger than the impressive Get Out and possibly even the exceptional French-horror film Raw…regardless of ranking, it’s certainly a great time for quality horror filmmaking). Quite frankly, It Comes at Night is one of the best films of the year because the story’s terror teaches a certain truth indirectly through distinct characterization – what is the monster? Or, who is the monster? The powerhouse performances from the film’s mesmerizing and diverse ensemble cast allow Shults’ quietly confident and artful direction become a piece of visionary, horror cinema. 10/10
It Comes At Night is now playing everywhere!