The Creature Columns: It Comes At Night (2017)
*Because of the nature of this review spoilers are somewhat necessary.
While I do not put tremendous stock in Rotten Tomatoes scores, they can sometimes serve to tell a story. Such is the case for the excellent film by Trey Edward Shults, It Comes At Night. The film was surrounded in controversy back during its release because many people felt that it was marketed in a deceptive way. Some in the horror community were disappointed by the film because it was not what they were expecting. They claimed that the movie failed in its execution, and many audiences openly spoke against the movie. They cited plot holes and profound disappointment as reasons. However, critical acclaim was high. As of this writing, the critical score on Rotten Tomatoes is at 87% while the audience score is at 44%. Before I delve into the film itself, I would like to make a suggestion. Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion, but I think modern audiences are cheating themselves out of some amazing cinema experiences by not carefully considering the entire purpose of film. People went into this movie with expectations. They wanted something to be lurking in the darkness in a literal manner. When they did not get what they wanted, they decided that the movie was bad. I think it is a disservice to film to judge a movie based on an individual’s expectations. I honestly believe the best way to view cinema is with an open mind while simply taking what is offered and processing it as a whole. We certainly all have expectations, but if we can govern those we can gain much more from cinematic offerings than simple surface perceptions.
WARNING: SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
The entire premise of the film is that a plague of apocalyptic proportions has struck the earth and many have died. One family is holed up in a remote house. They never go out at night except for extreme situations. The film opens with the death of the sick grandfather figure and the burning of his body. The family does what it has to in order to survive. This includes shooting the grandfather as he begins to succumb to the disease. The family has a dog that is very special to the son Kevin. The father, Paul, played by the amazingly stoic Joel Edgerton is extremely protective of his family. At one point, another man attempts to break into the house and Paul captures him, ties him to a tree outside, covers his face, and leaves him to scream for a day. Finally, Paul is convinced that the stranger is not infected and makes an uneasy treaty with him. The two set out to retrieve the stranger’s family. They are assaulted on the road, and Paul mercilessly kills his attackers. This seems to be an overall theme of the film. There is no mercy for strangers.
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