"You like playing Call of Duty huh? LET'S SEE YOUR SKILLS WITH HEADSHOTS IN REAL LIFE!' Sarah (Carmen Egogo) and Travis (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) prepare to defend themselves in a scene from writer/director Trey Edward Shults' horror movie IT COMES AT NIGHT. Credit: Photo by Eric McHatt, courtesy of A24. © 2017 A24. All rights reserved.


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Joel Edgerton, Carmen Egogo, Riley Keough, Kelvin Harrison, Jr. and Christopher Abbott

WRITER(S): Trey Edward Shults 

DIRECTOR(S): Trey Edward Shults 


HERE'S THE STORY: In a world where a mysterious virus has wiped out scores of people (WITHOUT them turning into body-munching zombies), Paul (Joel Edgerton) is doing his best to protect his family, which is living in a fairly large house in a remote, wooded area. His wife Sarah (Carmen Egogo) works by his side to maintain the home as does their 17 year-old son Travis (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.). An impressionable young soul, however, Travis is a bit taken aback when Paul has to take his father-in-law Bud (David Pendelton) outside the home. Why you ask? Well, let's just say the opening scene will clear this up for you pretty quickly ...

Given that Paul, Travis and Sarah use gas masks on a regular basis to avoid becoming infected with the virus, it should also come as no surprise that their home is essentially locked down like a bunker with only one way in and one way out through a rather imposing red door. Thus, when Will (Christopher Abbott) shows up trying to break in to what he thinks is an abandoned home, Paul is extremely upset and suspicious of the bearded stranger that has interrupted his family's post-apocalypse paradise. 

What ensues is an examination of paranoia, mistrust, the idea of no good deed going unpunished and the whether or not the terror of the world is as deadly as the terror man often creates in his own mind.

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST? People who like old school Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock Presents; fans of the relatively unknown Kelvin Harrison, Jr. 

WHO WON'T (OR SHOULDN'T) LIKE THIS MOVIE? People who hated the ending of The Sopranos; those not prepare for suspense and psychological exploration of fear instead of a bigger payoff; anyone who hated The Village (but not because of the acting, just the concept)

SO, IS IT GOOD, BAD OR ABSOLUTELY AWFUL? Go back to the section above. (For those that are not good with directions, it's the one label "Who Won't (Or Shouldn't) Like This Movie?" Did you see the VERY first thing I wrote? It references a popular television show that was really popular from its inception in 1999 to its final episode in 2007. And oh WHAT a final episode that was. If you didn't see it, without spoiling the ENTIRE SERIES for you, let's just say that it was as divisive a series finale as there's been in quite some time given its rather, well, "abrupt" conclusion which leaves the audience to decipher what the fate of its characters just might be. It was controversial to say the least

Well, here's why I bring all this up: If you go into It Comes At Night looking for a clear, definitive "and this is the grand finale!" type of story ... You are going to leave shaking your head in disappointment as much as I suspect audiences nationwide will upon its opening on June 9.

It Comes at Night has all the elements of a horror movie critics love and audiences come to loathe based on the exact same criteria. First, the acting in the film is phenomenal. While Joel Edgerton is perfectly stoic as a determined, "must-do-right-by-and-for-my-family" male lea, Christopher Abbott plays his role as the "hey, I just need help, man!" intruder expertly with Egogo and Keough as the damsels (but not completely in distress until need be) riding shotgun well.

It is the presence of Kelvin Harrison, Jr., however, as Travis that both interests and scares the %$?! out of you from start to finish. Rarely has an actor emoted so much through his simple eyeballs and facial expressions, but in Night, Harrison, Jr.'s pupils deserve their own Academy Award for their distressed, mystical, haunting presence. As the main protagonist (or would that be, as some might argue, antagonist?) in the film, every moment Harrison, Jr. is on screen, you feel compelled to watch because once you see his eyes, you know he's watching or getting ready to see something he is going to wish he hadn't.

Despite all of these positives, however, Night's "choose your own adventure"-style conclusion essentially ruins much of what was a great build towards ... What, you might not be exactly sure. (I mean, I know, but then again I watch a lot of movies.)

Imagine this scenario: Imagine going to an amusement park. It looks like many other amusement parks you've been to, but something seems different about this one. Then you get to the very back end of the park, seemingly miles away from where you first parked and entered the gates. Then you see a roller coaster – and in your view is an epic hill. I mean, this is the biggest hill you've ever seen. And being brave, you step onto the ride and then you begin to climb that hill in anticipation of that first drop. And you just keep going ... and going ... and going. And just when you're about to drop, you level out and are led to an exit where you simply take an elevator back to where you started.

Now, there are two ways to react to that: (1) You can nod your head in a very zen-like fashion and go "Ahhh, I get it" or the way I – and I fear you too, dear reader will react with a simple (2) WTF?! You mean for all that build-up, it's going to just end like THAT?! I. Demand. Answers!!! Sure, you will receive none and the answer – which in the case of writer/director Trey Edward Shults second full-length feature – is all about the experience moreso than it is about answers. And some of the answer, once thought about, broken down and debated are more likely to result in cheers of defiant "brilliant!" or "balderdash!" than they are in universal agreement.

You will find Night to be genius at work or extremely lazy storytelling with very little grey area existing in-between. For when you find out what "it" is and why "it" comes at night, you might be driven to insomnia with questions regarding why the ending isn't more definitive. While some will appreciate the film's eerie nature (yes, that may be oversimplifying it just a tad) and phenomenal, tense performances, others may view Night as a film with a whole lot of potential that ultimately fails to know where it wants to go.

With all of the building and building towards an epic finish, the film's ending may result in immediate disappointment for those not there to enjoy the proverbial ride – which is a shame, because the journey is quite stunning.



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