At about the midway point of It Comes At Night I began to feel like it would have made a better book, like McCarthy’s The Road. It was positioning itself to be one of those atmosphere films you hear so much about, setting the stage to be an interesting headpiece, but then it decided to settle for teasing an idea and stopped progress there, which is coincidentally the point on the map where I recognized the direction this was going and mentally bailed out.
It Comes At Night is the story of a family living off the grid as they attempt to survive in a world gone to shit via plague. They don’t hold your hand with backstory, which almost felt forced in its absence. It’s not hard to piece together what’s happening, but anyone who has ever actually participated in a conversation will spend the first leg of the movie wondering what happened and what the rest of the world is like. But, like many things in It Comes At Night, they thought it would make the film seem more sophisticated if they didn’t bother to address it, a decision they must have recognized as bullshit because this was not the film they attempted to sell in any way, shape or form. It made me wonder if it’s just a coincidence they named this movie with an ‘It’ title as some lame attempt to draw in fans of the successful It Follows film from a few years past, because there is no ‘it’ in this, or if they just thought it sounded cool.
I’ve heard repeatedly the label ‘slow burn’ being applied here, which could be an accurate description if we’re referring to the way the film methodically pains it’s audience. First, they started down the road of a home invasion movie in a dystopian world, but then turned back. Then they started down the nightmarish road of traveling from A-B with an unknown C, but then did all that offscreen. Then they started to sow the seeds of a paranoia picture, but never really gave you any reason to have any doubts. Then they started to explore the idea of coming of age in the days of doom, but let that go after a minute when they needed to begin the end. By the time they began the landing pattern I had given up on caring and left feeling empty when the lights came up.
I have nothing to think about with this movie except that it’s over and I watched it all. All the characters are one dimensional, and some I don’t even know if I would ascribe them that much complexity. The only surprise is that it goes as dark as it does in the end, but unlike a film like The Invitation that gives you compelling characters and actions that make you wonder what is happening before sticking a brilliant landing, It Comes At Night just drones along for an ungodly length of time, refusing to wrap it up.
Perhaps it’s superhero fatigue that has earned this film the buzz it seems to be enjoying amongst critics. People are so relieved by the fact they aren’t being bombarded by CGI explosions every 9 seconds, they give a mediocre tale a big hug.
I don’t know if that is the case, but like everything else about It Comes At Night, I don’t care. You got my money. I did my part. Now go fuck yourself.