Tuesday, June 20, 2017

All in the Family

I admit I am a bit of a sucker for low-budget indie horror and have, as you might expect, seen my share of both good ones and bad.  For every ‘Paranormal Activity’ and ‘Get Out,’ there is an ‘As Above, So Below’ and ‘Ouija.’  There are movies that were critically maligned that I somehow enjoyed, such as the unabashedly exploitative ‘The Purge,’ and ones that critics raved about that I thought aren't very good, like the highly overrated ‘It Follows.’  The latest such movie to get a wide release is A24’s ‘It Comes at Night’ which falls somewhere in between being just so-so. 
‘It Comes at Night’ (don't ask me what comes at night because I still can't figure it out) can best be characterized as post-apocalyptic survival psychological suspense horror (now that’s a mouthful).  A family of three comprising of a father, mother and their teenage son (played by Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo and Kelvin Harrison Jr.) live in a secluded house in the woods of an unspecified location in America.  A plague or disease of unknown origin has ravaged the world outside, and the characters’ (and by extension the audience’s) situation awareness is so limited that all we know is what’s happening in the "here and now. " When another family of three including a little boy seeks their aid and appeals to their humanity for shelter, they agree to take in the family for mutual support and companionship. However, even sympathetic gestures such as this can lead to tragedy and disaster in the end.
While this glacially paced movie is fairly well written and solidly acted, it is not an easy film to watch.  Not only is ‘It Comes at Night’ bleak, depressing and devoid of hope even by post-apocalyptic standards, its dark and tragic ending defies Hollywood conventions and leaves a bitter taste in our mouths.  Be forewarned.  All ye who enter this movie abandon hope because there is none to be found.

Grade: B

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