Another post-apocalyptic film,” you probably said to yourself when you first watched the trailer for It Comes at Night. You have to say…
“Another post-apocalyptic film,” you probably said to yourself when you first watched the trailer for It Comes at Night. It must be said that the project, quite confidential and clearly not benefiting from a marketing budget as high as other similar productions, is quite intriguing. Carried by a Joel Edgerton who is also an executive producer, the realization of Trey Edward Shults (Krisha) has been approached in these scorching times. To become a nice surprise?
A new approach
It is the story of a virus, whose origins are unknown to us, and which is slowly killing humanity. In this rather widespread context and treated for a long time by the cinema, we find a small American family made up of Paul, his wife Sarah and their son Travis. They live in seclusion in a house in the heart of the forest. They don’t understand what is going on in the world, but they notice with bitterness that there is no more electricity and that it is dangerous to go out, especially at night. Equipped with gas masks, they try to survive by taking as little risk as possible, with the sole objective of surviving until one day, perhaps, they come to their rescue. It was without counting on the arrival, in the middle of the night, of a stranger, a certain Will …
It Comes at Night is not a horror movie. It is more of a psychological lock-up that will make you sink into your own fears of the future. Indeed, do not expect the famous jumpscares, so dear to the directors of classic horror cinema. Here, everything is left to the good will of your imagination, as overflowing and complex as it is. Throughout the screening, the director’s wish is to tackle a subject while leaving the viewer the choice of the answer. If he leaves a few clues here and there, it is clear that you should not expect tailor-made explanations. Everything about Trey Edward Shults’ film is suggested, as if it is fundamental that we have our own take on the post-apocalyptic future described to us.
The story is not the strong point of the realization. With an absolute clacissism, it does not add anything new to the genre. Nevertheless, it is in its direction and its management of the rhythm that It Comes at Night surprises. The director has carefully balanced his plot to give it time to develop. Nothing is done too hastily which allows the scenario to take on sufficient scope in its last part to end up completely capturing the viewer. The film gradually exudes an incredible depth and completely absorbs us in a kind of psychotic paranoia. It is also here that the staging plays its role exceedingly well and, aided by a convincing soundtrack, pushes the viewer to the most atrocious expectations.
Family and fears
In a context as cold and disturbing as the spread of a virus whose roots nobody knows, the film tries to share with us a refocused vision on the post-apocalyptic genre family. It is also a phrase that can be heard several times during the screening “You can not trust anyone other than your family”. Thus, the confrontation between the two families who live under the same roof, forced to support each other to survive, is a real interesting fact and above all revealing. Faced with the horror they endure every day, the director wanted to portray this tendency to relate to those closest to them in order to find a reason to fight. We come to wonder about our humanity and the real repercussions that isolation and the danger of death could have on our primary reactions.
It Comes at Night portrays characters to whom we relate very easily and who seem to come straight out of our reality. The director thus wanted his film to be as close as possible to the natural values of being. These fears of loneliness, the loss of a loved one and the unknown are essentially transcribed to face what we really are: beasts living in groups but committed to the survival of those close to them.
In this sense, Joël Adgerton plays a character whose subtleties he has perfectly understood. His playing is sincere, strong and punchy. The 42-year-old Australian actor, known for his roles in Midnight Special, Exodus or Zero Dark Thirty surprises and confirms that he has the aura of a great. In this film with a tight budget, we will mainly remember the character of Travis brilliantly interpreted by Kelvin Harrison Jr. (The birth of a nation). Manhandled by his fears and a desire to help despite the surrounding chaos, the young actor makes a sensitive and precisely measured copy of a teenager who is looking for himself. Beside them, Carmen Ejogo (Sarah), Christopher Abbott (Will) and Riley Keough (Kim) hold the rope even if they can sometimes seem more aloof.