by Nile Fortner
This is a movie I have been looking forward to for a very long time. With a title like ‘It Comes at Night,’ the eerie trailers, the visually appealing posters, the A24 entertainment company who made The Witch and Ex Machina (two movies I love), and from all the marketing, I was expecting one of the best horror movies this year. Yay for horror movies! Who doesn’t love a good horror flick, a good spook to the spine every so often? I love horror movies, and it is actually one of my favorite genres. Unfortunately, us “horror heads” don’t get the most original or best treatment in the land of Hollywood. In my opinion, the best horror films lately have been foreign or independent. This is why I was looking forward to this somewhat “small budget under the radar” horror movie.
I thought this movie was going to be like Ex Machina or The Witch. That beautiful artistic horror, the horror that makes you think, horror so good you almost don’t understand the ending until you see it again. Now for all you fans who love this genre, and are really looking forward to this film, this isn’t a horror film. A24 marketed it as a horror film, because studios know they can get more change in their pockets if they showcase this as a more popular genre piece.
I know the situation or characters are in is horrifying, and horror has so many aspects to it. However, the trailers and posters just lied to so many people. The trailer shows blood, darkness, and a title card in creepy font that says monster in all caps. You do not get any of that. No monsters, no witches, no machines, no mutants, none of that. On the poster, it even says, “The most terrifying film you’ll see this summer”, and I believe that is just not true. Their marketing equals, “YOU WILL NOT SLEEP AT NIGHT AFTER THIS TERRIFYING MOTION PICTURE!” Me, “You have got to be fucking kidding me, right?”
This is more of a psychological thriller than anything else. The official plot according to Rotten Tomatoes and Wikipedia is “Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, the tenuous order a man, played by Joel Edgerton, has established with his wife and son is put to the ultimate test with the arrival of a desperate family seeking refuge. Despite the best intentions of both families, paranoia and mistrust boil over as the horrors outside creep ever-closer, awakening something hidden and monstrous within the man as he learns that the protection of his family comes at the cost of his soul.”
It is kind of weird writing about this because I’m not sure how to exactly write about it. From an advertising standpoint, I do not like it; on the other hand, from a film-making standpoint I’m in love with it. If you’re someone who is easily frightened by imagery and generic horror music, then this movie will probably scare you. This movie advertised the main villain as that old shirtless man with black eyes spitting up blood. I was sitting there, like “oh man, when is this guy going to show up? Spoiler, never, he never shows up, because it’s just a dream sequence.
I’m not trying to spoil the movie for you, if anything I’m trying to save horror fans from a disappointment. The movie is a very well made well film, it’s just the marketing that I thought was in poor taste. The acting is some of the best acting I’ve seen in a long time. I usually don’t talk about actors unless they are bad, but this acting was something that should definitely be seen, and admired. Joel Edgerton (The Gift, Loving) is frightening in this film. In the movie Loving, he was so sweet, and here it’s cool to see him portray the complete opposite of that. The movie creates such human tension, and builds up suspense in a beautiful way. If anything, the tension is the mystery and horror in the movie. The scary part is seeing how human behavior can easily just be switched in the matter of seconds.
Now I’m someone who likes art, and I love when movies incorporate pictures and or artistic drawings/paintings into the movie that help to tell the story. They have a few scenes where they show the painting ‘The Triumph of Death’ by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. The oil painting displays fire, corpses, a demolished landscape, a wagon full of skeletons, along with other gruesome things. The painting was supposed to show us the betrayal of everyday people in a village in the 16th century. The movie’s plot is about everyday people in small area about to turn on each other. Maybe some food for our movie thoughts? It’s an odd painting to use as decoration, but I personally take it as a metaphor for our characters.
In addition, it is a slow film that builds much like the movie The Invitation. I like how the movie wants to show us that the real monster is our human mentality. The tension is great, and I like the movies theme of don’t let your guard down, and always be aware of your surroundings. I like how the title makes its audience ask big questions, the question being “what exactly comes at night?” Spoiler, not a God damn thing! It does not exist, leaving an audience with blue balls.
If I had to give the marketing a rating, I would say the marketing is all off and the major issue of the film. But from a film-making standpoint, I enjoyed the hell out of it! So overall, if I had to mix up everything from the way it was presented, I would give It Comes At Night a ……
3 out of 5 Hairpieces