Monday, May 21, 2018

Good Gas Masks Make Good Neighbors

A wildly divisive plague thriller?


Quick Plot: A lethal sickness has ravaged the country, leaving the survivors to head to to unoccupied areas and avoid contact with the infected. One family, led by Paul (Joel Edgerton) has carved out a safe enough existence in woodsy isolation, at least until one fateful night when a mysterious man named Will tries to break in.

Thankfully, Will is simply a fellow family man trying to find water for his own wife and son. With a few chickens and goats to trade, he moves his clan in for a new six-person (plus one dog). Everything is going well enough...until it's not.

Written and directed by Trey Edward Shults, It Comes At Night had one of those complicated debuts, wowing some festival goers but leaving genre fans disappointed. The best way to approach it is to forget its occasional classification in the horror section altogether.

Once you get past the idea that this isn't Carriers or the tragically underseen Dead Within, It Comes At Night can play out as intended: essentially, a play or sorts with a nightmarish sense of foreboding. Yes, there is a plague but no, we as the audience don't get to see much of it or the world it has ravaged. We don't have violent scavengers or the zombie-like infected breaking in. Instead, it's the tale of two families learning to trust and distrust each other. Quietly.

High Points
It would be easy for everyone to be miserable in a movie like It Comes At Night, but there's a great bit of brightness to be found in Kelvin Harrison Jr. as teenage Travis. The actor and character bring out a certain sense of hope and the idea that there's still something to be enjoyed in a world where everything has gone to hell

Low Points
It's hard not to watch a movie like this without imagining a more exciting version, especially when one exists that is currently streaming on Instant Watch

Lessons Learned
Chopping wood is best understood when compared to pooping

When watching any post-apocalyptic thriller, do yourself a favor: never get attached to the dog

When there's no more machinery or bustling human sounds, always remember that house walls are incredibly thin

So long as you know the type of film you're getting (i.e., a quiet, almost theatrical interpersonal family survival drama), It Comes At Night is a well put together tale. It just might not be what you want out of 100 minutes of life, particularly since it's bound to leave you feeling fairly miserable about life. But you know, miserable in a way that was inspired by quality, if that makes it any better?

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