It Comes At Night is the story of a family and their experiences in loss when the world is wrought by a killer disease, not unlike the disease in the film Open Grave. Paul and Sarah, along with their son Travis, were better equipped for the epidemic than most. With a house in the woods, secluded from the rest of the world, and enough firearms to protect themselves from the infected, the family was doing just fine on their own. Everything changes when they discover that a man named Will has broken into their home, searching for supplies. Reluctantly, Paul invites Will, his wife and his young son, to move in with them. There is strength in numbers. Right?
The relationship between the two families gets off to a great start. Their is laughter and smiling faces back in the home. Then the family’s dog Stanley runs off, only to come back in the middle of the night; the dog is badly wounded and infected with the disease. When it turns out that Will’s son Andrew opened the door for the dog and is now sick, the two families are forced to sever their newfound bonds. Will wants to leave, taking his share of the supplies, but Paul and Sarah have other plans. In their struggle to leave, Will and his family are shot and killed. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that Travis has also contracted the disease.
I have a sneaking suspicion that a lot of people will not enjoy this movie because of how slow it is at times during its ninety minute run time. The movie does not explain much in the way of how the disease and the end of civilization came to be, or show the world in its current state. By focusing just on Paul and his family, we are able to hone in on what the movie is really about—fear and loss. We are told from the very beginning this is what the film is about, when the family is forced to kill Sarah’s elderly father because he is sick. So, yes, the film is simple. If it were a novel it would be a minimalist work by Cormac McCarthy. The tension is created by nightmares that Travis experiences. Travis’ dreams are the things that come at night, hinted at in the film’s title. For these reasons I give It Comes At Night five out of five stars.