“So what is it that comes at night? Boredom, apparently.”
I usually don’t watch trailers anymore because I like to be as surprised as possible when I go to see a movie. Generally I will decide to watch a movie based on the cast list, director attached, or even something as simple as the poster; for It Comes at Night, the poster is what definitely got me to buy a ticket. I was surprised to find out that It Comes at Night is a movie that takes place during a pseudo-apocalypse, where a mysterious illness infects people. How many people? I don’t know. What kind of illness? I don’t know. But we are told repeatedly that it is bad news, so I guess I’ll just have to take their word for it. The film follows Paul (Joel Edgerton), a man who lives in a secluded house in the woods with his family. Their peace is disrupted when a mysterious man comes to visit, begging them for water for his wife and child. Paul and the group decide to take these people into their home and live out this hell on earth together.
So what is it that comes at night? Boredom, apparently. That’s right this movie starts up and does literally nothing for ninety minutes, leaving me a lot of time to beat myself up over buying a ticket. The plot of the movie is interesting, especially with my love of apocalypse stories, but the problem is that it never becomes anything. We are told that there is an illness but that is never elaborated upon. We never even see this threat up close, so as far as I’m concerned it was all in the character’s head. I mean, how hard would it have been to have a few dead bodies here and there to illustrate that this illness is deadly? The movie never does anything like this, but instead gives us ninety minutes of Joel Edgerton falling over repeatedly. The only real plot in the movie consists of weird puberty dreams had by the main character’s teenage son, and that gets annoying because the movie is essentially taunting me saying: “Look at what this movie could have been. Doesn’t it look cool?”. This is doubly frustrating when these dream sequences are masked and paraded as if they are actually happening, only to be taken away at the sight of the character waking up in a cold sweat. It’s obnoxious to say the least. When It Comes at Night ended I couldn’t help but wonder what the plot of the movie was. I mean I get there was an illness, but that was never explained so it couldn’t be the plot. I get that someone tried to break into their house, but that was resolved so that couldn’t be the plot. I get that a family came to live with them, but that happened so fucking late in the film that there is no way that it could be the plot. Everything about It Comes at Night just feels half-cocked. Like there is the start of a really good movie in there, but unfortunately they pulled it out of the oven too soon. And this is made even more annoying when the film blatantly cuts around the more interesting parts in the story. It will lead to believe you are going down one path, only to cut to a different scene where that path has already been traversed by the character and there is once again nothing to see. I understand that people are going to love this movie because it shows how desperate people are in times of need or whatever other bullshit they’ll come up with, but the problem is there are so many other movies that tackle that subject better. Sure, maybe if It Comes at Night was made before something like “The Road” I wouldn’t be so harsh, but movies like “The Road” already exist and did what It Comes at Night tried to do, but better. I will admit that the end of the movie is phenomenal; not the very end, but the final third. It takes the movie so fucking long to get there, but when it does it makes sure that it delivers everything that it has been promising. This ending is everything I could have wanted out of the movie: It’s intense, it’s terrifying, it makes me feel ill. It’s just unfortunate that it was too little too late. I would feel wrong if I didn’t point out that I thought It Comes at Night was a beautiful movie, at least from an audio-visual perspective. The way the film is shot and lit reminded me a lot of The Witch, and the soundtrack was hauntingly beautiful. I also thought that the performances were great, and every single person really conveyed the situation they were in. Unfortunately all of this praise was shadowed by how inconsequential the movie was.
They say that you’re never supposed to judge a book by it’s cover, but I always assumed that meant that a really good book could have a shitty cover that people overlook all of the time. Unfortunately It Comes at Night taught me that saying can go the other way too. With a beautiful poster I was instantly excited about seeing It Comes at Night, but unfortunately the movie couldn’t live up its marketing material. With beautiful performances, a wonderful soundtrack, and brilliantly atmospheric directing it’s a shame that It Comes at Night was ruined by it’s inconsequential, half-baked story.
I give It Comes at Night a C