October 4, 2017 – Plot: Secure within a desolate home as an unnatural threat terrorizes the world, the tenuous domestic order he has established with his wife and son is put to the ultimate test with the arrival of a desperate young 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 him as he learns that the protection of his family comes at the cost of his soul. (Synopsis by imdb.com writer A24)
It is true that we’re at a high point for horror movies, but that makes writing about them very difficult. For one thing, you cannot avoid terms that have now become eye-rolling cliches. Terms like ‘slow burn’ or ‘quiet’ or ‘atmospheric’. None of these are bad descriptors but they’re highly over-used.
And now, someone has tried to introduce the notion of a sub-genre called ‘post-horror‘. No one is quite sure what it means. A horror movie that looks creepy but actually isn’t? A horror movie that isn’t actually all that concerned with whatever monster, killer or demon is plaguing its world? A horror movie cleanly stripped of any tropes? The post-horror concept has received backlash, and I must confess I’m also hostile to it.
It Comes At Night is intense and paranoid and features terrific actors. Its very well served by being set in a vague and undefined post-apocalyptic landscape where a devastating, hideously deforming disease runs rampant. We have our main family, Paul (Joel Edgerton), Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). They just finished burying a beloved grandfather. Their cabin, their property, is the claustrophobic setting of 90% of the film’s running time. So when they decide to open it up to another family, what’s going to happen? Will social order be maintained? Will you project your own righteous self-interest of survival and justify any action Paul takes to do right by his family?
This isn’t new territory. This has been explored in every third episode of The Walking Dead. In fact, the horror sub-genre tag I’d give the movie is zombie-by-proxy. But I like director Trey Edward Shults’ approach. And I enjoyed the time spent with Travis, the young son. Unlike The Walking Dead‘s highly irritating Karl, we were promised an interesting view of how a young adolescent would fare in his transition during a social meltdown.
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