Joel Edgerton is for sure among my favorite actors working today. Ever since Animal Kingdom, I have time and time again been floored by his ability to disappear into roles. His work there and in the likes of Warrior, The Gift and Loving, among other pictures, exemplify his immense talents on the screen. Moreover, Edgerton has proven himself more than capable of making a lot out of a little, case in point his terrific turn in 2015's otherwise limp Black Mass.
Edgerton's latest film, thankfully, is much more in line with his finest projects, as opposed to Black Mass and The Great Gatsby.
It Comes at Night, directed by the fabulous young filmmaker Trey Edward Shults, is a masterfully unsettling psychological horror flick. It's that breed of cinema, woefully rare these days in the genre, that's determined to get under your skin without resorting to much in the way of guts and gore.
The film opens on a family - Paul (Edgerton) and Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and their teenage son Travis (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) - who have secured themselves inside a desolate country home as a mysterious disease ravages the world around them. Paul has established a strict routine and order that has thus far kept them safe and sound. That is, until the arrival of Will (Christopher Abbott), another desperate family man, searching for water to provide for his kin.
After much reluctance, Paul agrees to trade some of the family's water in exchange for food Will has amassed. Furthermore, once more of a rapport is struck, Paul and Sarah allow for Will's wife (Riley Keogh) and son (Griffin Robert Faulkner) to move into their home. That's when problems begin to arise. Travis' dog Stanley goes missing in the woods after a berserk response to something in the distance. Travis is also plagued by horrific nightmares involving the new inhabitants and his grandfather, who succumbed to the disease.
Matters really get tense, however, when one evening, Travis discovers the front door of the house, which is always locked up to the tee, has been left open. Outside the door is a suffering, infected Stanley. The question of who opened the door sparks a contentious conversation among the residents, one which could threaten to tear the house apart.
An aura of intense claustrophobia and uncertainty lingers throughout It Comes at Night. The film is brilliantly, convincingly acted by all involved but the real star of the show has to be Shults, working wonders with the camera in a way that rings of John Carpenter and Stanley Kubrick. The film is beautifully lit too - kudos to Drew Daniels on his stunning cinematography. Shults' screenplay is also something to marvel at, guaranteed to spark discussion over the meaning of the proceedings and just what the hell may have happened with that damn door.
I look so forward to the next projects from both Shults and Edgerton.