Tuesday, August 15, 2017

It Comes at Night

Travis and his gun-toting, trigger happy, paranoid parents live in a large boarded up house deep in the forest. He doesn't sleep well due to nightmares about his grandfather dying of the plague that, we assume, has destroyed civilization. His only other company / diversion is his dog. But the family isn't short of anything and no-one has to go to work or school, they are in a cosy catastrophe situation.

The title, It Comes at Night, refers both to Travis's nightmares and the genesis of most of the disruptions to the family's life in self-imposed seclusion. This film is not about the catastrophe that has destroyed civilization, but about Travis's family and its interactions with the world outside the house. Those interactions oscillate between middle-class politeness and murderous violent paranoia, with no nuances in between. The main problem they face is how to decide who to trust when you have very little information and no way of corroborating what people tell you.

While Travis is our way into this film, his father, Paul, is the character who dominates the screen, his family and anyone trying to get close. In fact, the male characters dominate this film in a way that you can almost smell the testosterone wafting towards you from the screen.

While some of the activity in the film seems borderline supernatural (especially to Travis), apart from Travis's nightmares this is a rational horror film, rooted in the horrors of real-world cause and effect. Dealing with the unknown outside their little hideaway provides the thrills in the film.

If one were attempting to philosophize about the film, it would be tempting to draw parallels between the attitudes of this fictional family in the forest and the attitudes of Americans toward each other (and towards the outside world). Where to draw the lines between us and them and how to deal with them.

While the script marginalises its female characters, it is film about around its male characters and their spoken and non-spoken interactions. Joel Edgerton (Paul) dominates when ever he is on-screen.

Ian's rating 3/5

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