It Comes at Night is a contemplative addition to A24’s ever growing catalog of thought provoking cinema. The story is a straight-forward yet emotionally complex bare-bones post-outbreak tale of life in a newly devastated world.
The world of It Comes, however, feels somehow both alien and very lived in. We are introduced to a family putting their elderly, infected father to rest. Paul and Will are emotional, but the ceremony is all but removed from a gunshot and then burning of the body; the man’s daughter, Sarah, sobbing within the home, aware of the business but instructed to stay clear.
From the onset of this intense introduction, the game is ramped up even further when he catches Will attempting to ransack an assumed abandoned home. Through tragedy and darkness, bonds are formed and questioned again and again, making for an emotional experience.
The titular ‘It’ I initially presumed to be the sickness, or perhaps even an errant creature I come to find out is something very different. It is the darkness within all of us, and in its many shades. There is darkness in losing civilization, in having to watch your father deteriorate and pass, but there is a greater darkness that pervades the screen.
That is, the darkness of the suffering and rage that can be wrought from a tense situation misread and escalated. The darkness of not knowing what anyone could be thinking, what they might intend to do to you, your pets, or even your family. Or even the simple darkness of a home lit sparsely by flash and candlelight, echoing with strange, inexplicable sounds.
What writer director Trey Edward Shults has captured in ‘It Comes at Night’ is the often unspeakable tension of protecting the people you love in the home you made, at all costs.