it comes at night spoiler review

Trey Edward Shults’ It Comes At Night opens today and while it’s not the movie being sold in the trailers, it’s an exceptional piece of work. Tense and unsettling and bleaker than bleak, it’s going to rattle nerves of audiences everywhere this weekend. And everyone who sees it is probably going to have a lot to talk about.

Alex Riviello and Jacob Hall certainly did. Unable to get the film out of their minds, the two of them sat down to talk about the movie in spoiler-filled detail.

it comes at night review

A Deliberate Lack of Answers

Jacob: The thing that immediately struck me about It Comes at Night is that it doesn’t offer you any complete or satisfying answers about the nature of its world. This is by design, of course. We never leave the woods and we spend the bulk of the movie in this isolated cabin with Joel Edgerton and his family as some kind of unspecified apocalypse rages on in the cities. Since the vast majority of post-apocayptic movies open with a voice over narration explaining how the world fell apart (usually over stock footage of old nuclear tests), this is appropriately jarring. The film refuses to hold your hand from moment one and refuses to offer you any assistance moving forward. I found this exhilarating – the characters don’t have time for small talk, so the movie doesn’t either. Did you find this deliberate distance exciting or did it leave you cold?

Alex: I’m the same as you! I love it when a film is confident that viewers will stick with it and figure things out at their own pace. I also think it’s the absolute best way to put us in the right mindset for a survival film like this. It’s one thing to say that millions of people are dead, there’s some horrible illness ravaging the world, blah blah blah. Numbers and facts don’t hit the same way as a film that throws you into a situation and forces you to live with what’s happened, to feel the new world. I think its ambiguity could definitely turn some people off, though. I know it’s been popular to compare it to slow burn films like The Witch, but it does feel in the same pantheon, a film that offers no easy answers yet is incredibly rewarding for those that stick with it. Of course, I can see the incoming criticism from audiences mad that we never actually do find out what the titular “it” is. At the Q&A of the premiere screening, multiple people tried to get director Trey Edward Shults to reveal more about what’s going on, and I was happy to see him refuse to explain anything. Do you think it should have answered more questions than it raises, though?

Jacob: I think asking it to answer questions is demanding it to be a different film. This really is arthouse horror, the kind of movie that demands a long conversation at a coffee shop after the credits roll. It’s not a good, “fun” time at the movies and I appreciate that the movie isn’t afraid to treat us, and its characters, like shit. If the people on screen can’t be sure of anything, why should we? The film creates this sense of both frustration and danger – we cannot, and will not, know for sure what kind of threat is at hand here and how to defeat it or protect ourselves from it. Those feelings of frustration, of watching something incomplete, echo the events in the film itself, where no one can trust each other and where nightmares can become indistinguishable from reality. It Comes at Night wants to leave you with the cinematic equivalent of a concussion. It hurts and you can’t see straight and you’re not sure how it happened or how you could have prevented it. I’m not sure that’s something many audiences want to experience, but it’s something that I’m glad happened to me.

it comes at night trailer

Nightmares and Aspect Ratios

Jacob: Speaking of nightmares, I want to bring up the dream sequences. I’m assuming you noticed how Shults manipulates the aspect ratio in these scenes and only uses music when we’re in a nightmare?

Alex: I noticed the music but not the aspect ratio until it was over. It’s a pretty clever trick. Even though I wasn’t aware of the change, it was immediately obvious that something feels off. You know right away when it’s a dream sequence and it works so well to show you poor Travis’ mindset. The kid is an absolute mess, and while seeing him wandering around at night gives you an idea of how rattled he is, these little glimpses into his worst fears (and desires) is brilliant. A big budget horror movie would have made the film all about the survivor dad character, but here, we’re with the kid, and just as confused and frustrated about the family’s decisions. I also love the decision to focus on Travis’ sexuality. He’s a teen with hormones raging out of control and yet he’s stuck in this boarded-up house with his parents. There is absolutely no way to let off that steam, not even (eww) looking in on his parents doing it. If there’s a worse hell than that, I don’t want to know about it.

it comes at night

Something in the House…

Alex: And speaking of hell, how utterly terrifying is the early scene when Travis is woken up by his mom, saying that there’s something is in the house? I don’t think I breathed for about ten minutes.

Jacob: For a movie that is completely lacking in traditional jump scares of any kind, that’s a terrifying moment. In retrospect, it may be my favorite sequence from the entire movie. There are few things as frightening on a primal level as being in the dark and knowing that you’re not alone. The movie definitely reaches more emotionally disturbing places in its final half hour, but that early scene, when the family investigates something really does get under your skin. I especially like how the pacing of the scene reflects the characters themselves – it’s not in a hurry because the character on screen are not in a hurry. They don’t go blindly charging into a dangerous situation. They have a process and they trust that process, taking things step-by-step. It’s a perfect excuse for Shults to drag out the tension to unbearable levels.

Alex: After a dozen horror movies that are nothing but jump scares, I definitely appreciate one that just seeps into your bones and doesn’t go for the easy fright.

Continue Reading It Comes at Night Spoiler Review >>

Pages: 1 2Next page

Cool Posts From Around the Web:

About the Author