Dread is the name of the game when it comes to it It Comes at Night; an apocalyptic nightmare from Trey Edward Shults, writer/director of the harrowing Krisha (2015). Set in the wake of a vaguely described mass world ending illness. Based around a family trying to find a way to survive in a remote cabin in the woods isolated from the world and increasingly beginning to crack from one another with characters distrusting each other and a strong sense of paranoia beginning to creep in. Yet whatever mysterious terrors they’re afraid of out there it’s what comes from themselves that’s the real threat.
The head of the house, Joel Edgerton’s Paul rules the house with a mix of gentle paternal care and over caution, a kingdom of his own design where the windows are boarded up and the only entrance is open via an ominous looking red door at the end of a sealed corridor. Dramatically placed family photos depicted happier times in what looks like the fairly recent past, but Shults is careful to keep any context or clues to the past to a minimum so we truly are put on the back foot and we don’t know what to expect next. Especially when a stranger breaks into their house. Paul is forced to let intruder Will into his home (Christopher Abbott), offering sanctuary to him and his wife, Kim (Riley Keough), and their young son, Andrew. They bring food and companionship. But this new family’s presence brings more foreboding.
It’s intensely personal story told through the eyes of the most innocent of eyes in the house, the movie is paced much like The Shining; slow building dread that gradually but steadily cracks under utterly unbearable circumstances. It is helped no doubt by the wonderful cinematography that gives everything a strange fever dream like quality that helps paint a picture of a grim and hopeless picture of the end of the world that’s slowly descending into madness and disorder.
It Comes At Night is on general release now