This film has been getting a lot of praise among critics. The reaction is opposite with general audiences. The very same thing happened with last years THE WITCH. I haven't seen the film since the theater, but I liked THE WITCH. Now with IT COMES AT NIGHT, I am somewhere in the middle? I didn't love it but I also didn't hate it.
The critical praise of IT COMES AT NIGHT is a little overhyped in my opinion. In a nutshell, most critics like it because it arty. The director is a big fan of Kubrick, and it shows. Also, the 'less is more' approach is a big hit among the critics who love the movie.
In a multiplex full of studio driven movies with big stars, special effects, and boring exposition dialogue IT COMES AT NIGHT is a breath of fresh air! However, Trey Edward Shults went a little too carried away with 'less is more'.
The most simple way for me to describe IT COMES AT NIGHT is to label it as THE WALKING DEAD without zombies.
The film opens with a family killing one of their own because of some kind of disease. It is here that the movie is it's strongest. With little to no dialogue we're given information to move the plot along. I don't need some character or some voice-over telling me how or when the disease started.
The main character in the film is Travis, and it's his grandpa that they put down. He starts to have nightmares, and possibly insomnia. He probably doesn't sleep because of the nightmares?
In the middle of the night someone tries to break in their house. Paul, the father of the house drags the intruder outside and ties him to a tree. After a day of interrogation, Paul and the man whose name is Will make a deal. On the way to get Will's family the two are bushwhacked by two gunmen. This was my favorite scene in the film! I was on the edge of my seat thinking these guys are partners with Will. We never find out who they are or why they were out there because Paul kills them pretty quickly.
So now Will and his family move in and things go smoothly. This is right around the time I started thinking THE WALKING DEAD without zombies.
It's during a late afternoon of chopping wood that things start to get bad. Travis's dog sees something in the woods and goes after it. Paul refuses to have Travis chase after the dog. To avoid specific spoilers I'll just tell to the dog comes back a bloody mess. We're not told who brought him to the house/opened the door? People may or may not have been infected, and the psychological terror really amps up here!
At the time of writing this blog post/review, I really feel it's necessary to watch IT COMES AT NIGHT again? The aspects of the film that I wanted to heavily criticize I may actually like now that I think about it? Maybe the film is a brilliant slice of psychological terror!
In conclusion, I don't see IT COMES AT NIGHT making the list of my favorite films of the year, but I definitely want to check it out again.