‘It Comes At Night’ Explores The Horror Of Humanity, But It May Hit Too Close To Home

It Comes at Night is the second feature-length film from writer/director Trey Edward Shults, and even as horror audiences look to early reviews for a hint of what to expect, the new film still doesn’t have a clear verdict. Some love it, some hate it. Yet, one thing is certain and that is that It Comes at Night won’t be easily dismissed by anyone. Shults’ film may use typical genre themes, but what he’s really presenting is his view of humanity at its rawest, showing that people revert to a less civilized beast when the chips are down and there’s a danger beating on the door.

It Comes At Night Presents A Dark View Of Mankind

As New York Post shares, It Comes at Night focuses on two families, as a plague ravages society and curses its victims with symptoms that make them seem more like undead zombies than suffering friends, neighbors, and relatives. In the midst of this, the head of one of these families, Paul (Joel Edgerton), protects his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and teenage son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) by securing them all in a remote cabin in the woods.

From there, it’s difficult to keep a firm grasp on what’s really going on, because so much of what’s going on is filtered through the view of a gas mask. As It Comes at Night opens, we do get to experience the culmination of this virus or disease, as Sarah’s father Bud (David Pendleton) succumbs to his illness and ultimately dies, but, otherwise, the plague is secondary to the story of this family.

It Comes at Night
'It Comes at Night' starts off with a death and gets darker from there. [Image by A24]

As Edgerton says more than once, his character’s only concern is for his family and it quickly becomes apparent that Paul will do absolutely anything to keep his loved ones safe. Alone in the woods, that pledge goes untested, but a knock at the door soon presents a new set of challenges.

Will (Christopher Abbott) arrives to ask for help for his own family, which includes Riley Keough (granddaughter to Elvis and Priscilla Presley).

As It Comes at Night moves forward from this point, the strain between these two families, alone in the wilderness, becomes the source of the film’s tension. Some say it goes too far in forcing audiences to face the ugliness in the human heart, but, then again, isn’t that the point of good horror?

What Does The Cast Of It Comes At Night Have To Say?

USA Today reached out to writer and director Trey Edward Shults about his second film, It Comes at Night, which, in spite of critic commentary, is already being hailed as the scariest film of the year. Shults says he wasn’t trying to make a frightfest with his new project. Instead, he was just trying to tell the story as it unfolded in his heart, which focuses on the things that scare him, personally.

“It’s about my fears: the unknown and mortality,” says the It Comes at Night director. “Those are the scariest things to me.”

Riley Keough, It Comes at Night
Riley Keough at the 'It Comes at Night' premiere. [Image by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images]

Riley Keough says the scares are certainly there, but, while It Comes at Night is a chilling story, she adds that it’s also very emotional. The actress shared that reading the script for the first time caused her to cry, which, Riley added, is a rare thing for her.

“It’s a very interesting exploration into fear and human behavior under pressure, and exploring people as monsters,” Keough says of It Comes at Night.

Meanwhile, Joel Edgerton hints that his character is one of the least emotional characters in the film, as he shares that Paul comes to parenting from the “tough love” method. Joel says that while his It Comes at Night character is harsh, he’s strict out of love and wanting to toughen up his kids in preparation for a cold, hard world.

While others criticize It Comes at Night for its lack of an introduction, dropping audiences in the midst of the story without much information, Edgerton says this is one of the film’s strengths.

“You get what you need to feel out the story, but also enough to decide for yourself.”

It Comes at Night debuts in theaters on June 9.

[Featured Image by A24]