2017 has already gifted us with one noteworthy horror flick in Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Could the apocalyptic It Comes at Night be another?
Welcome to June. It is summer – the time of ice cream, swimming pools, and, most relevant to Culturess, big, loud, hyped-up movies. As much as we enjoy superheroes and gun-wielding apes, though, watching things go boom can get exhausting. Luckily, the season has more to offer, from raucous comedies to elegant period pieces. Or maybe you’re craving a good scare. It Comes at Night might be just the thing you’re looking for.
Don’t be put off by the title, which bears close resemblance to It Follows. And the premise – strangers sow discord in a seemingly perfect family – doesn’t exactly sound novel. Trust us: you want to keep this film on your radar. Here are five reasons we’re excited for It Comes at Night:
Like any advertisement, a truly effective trailer leaves you thinking, “I need that.” When the teaser for It Comes at Night started playing in advance of my Get Out screening, I had no interest in seeing the movie; I’d only vaguely heard of it. By the time the title materialized, I wanted to inject the movie into my brain, Inception-style, right then.
The clip provides little in the way of plot. All that you can really decipher from it is the genre. But, from the first image of a dark hallway lined with paintings, it snares your attention. Every element – the increasingly frenetic editing, the disembodied voices, the dissonant music, the recurrence of that original image – helps create an inescapable feeling of dread. It encapsulates the essence of horror: even as the red door warns of the danger beyond, you can’t help but get closer.
A24 later released a full-length trailer, which lays out the basic story: two families, hiding from an unknown disease or monster, turn against one another. It looks a little like The Thing meets 10 Cloverfield Lane, with the paranoia of the former, the familial themes of the latter, and the confined setting of both. Despite its more traditional structure, the trailer preserves enough of the mystery to keep us intrigued (and terrified).
Trey Edward Shults made his feature debut last year with the micro-budget Krisha. Released in a total of 26 theaters and starring several of Shults’s relatives, it follows a woman as she struggles with alcoholism during one contentious Thanksgiving dinner. At first, it seems like your standard indie drama, full of abrasive characters and handheld camerawork. Yet, as the discomfort morphs into naked hostility, Krisha reveals itself to be something else: a horror movie in disguise. It even contains a shot that should look familiar if you watched the trailer above.
Simultaneously visceral and nuanced, brutal and compassionate, Krisha announces Shults as an exciting new directorial voice, his boldness matched by his sense of control. We can’t wait to see what he does with a straight genre movie like It Comes at Night. In the meantime, if you want a glimpse at the future, you can check out Krisha on Amazon Prime.
While we wouldn’t label it “star-studded”, the cast of It Comes at Night is stocked with talent. Lead Joel Edgerton has spent the years since his breakout in Animal Kingdom poised on the edge of the mainstream, doing consistently solid work in roles that never quite seem to take advantage of his full potential. Could this finally be the one? It’s not uncharted terrain for Edgerton: the actor made his directorial debut with 2015’s The Gift, another thriller with shades of horror and a fascination with family dynamics.
Also in the ensemble: Carmen Ejogo, who elevated the “wife” role as Coretta Scott King in Ava DuVernay’s Selma; Riley Keough, a rapidly ascending star thanks to Mad Max: Fury Road, American Honey, and Starz’s The Girlfriend Experience; and Girls alumnus Christopher Abbott, who drew raves for his performance in the 2015 indie James White.
Currently, two movie studios can grab people’s attention based on their names alone: Disney and A24. Since 2013, the company has evolved into a darling of the art house world, producing and distributing fare as diverse as Spring Breakers, Ex Machina, and Moonlight. In an age dominated by franchises, it champions creative, personal, and generally idiosyncratic stories, allowing both established auteurs like Sofia Coppola and promising newcomers like Shults to thrive. (A24 also distributed Krisha.)
Perhaps, it’s silly to advocate for a studio. After all, at the end of the day, it is still a corporation. But A24 has a stellar track record when it comes to horror. In fact, it’s responsible for three of this decade’s best entries in the genre: Under the Skin, It Follows, and The Witch. That’s nothing to sneeze at.
It Comes at Night premiered on April 29 as a “secret” screening at the Overlook Film Festival, a four-day, horror-centric event located in The Shining’s infamous hotel. The early reviews suggest we should totally get our hopes up, miniscule sample size be damned.
It Comes at Night is scheduled for theatrical release on June 9.