It didn’t in this movie.
(It’s award consideration season and I’m playing catch-up. As I tear through them, I thought I’d try mini-reviews. Enjoy!)
Nothing ruins a movie quite like failing to follow through on a promise. It Comes at Night is a title that promises us something coming at night. For an hour and a half, I sat there waiting for something, anything, to come at night. The film builds up the possibilities quite nicely as Paul (Joel Edgerton) and family are holed up in a house in the forest, hiding from something that has infected nearly all humans with a disease.
The first ten minutes of the film are great because of the hook and visuals – a couple of people in gas masks are saying their goodbyes to grandpa, who is infected with the disease and is quickly dispatched by Paul. I’m not sure you could open a movie better. Following that, there are creepy hallways, rules about never going out at night, terrified scans of the forest, the family dog tearing off into the forest after something, and a second family that Paul takes in. All the while, Paul’s son Travis, is having nightmares of diseased people and black goo coming out of their mouths. Oh my god was I all the way in on this movie halfway through. Near the hour and twenty-minute mark, the two families have a big falling out and you think this is the lead-in to act three. Nope. The movie just ends without ever revealing what they were so worried about (beyond the disease) in the forest or assigning any meaning to Travis’ nightmares. It was ninety minutes of foreplay and the worst case of movie blue-balls you will ever have.
Rating: Ask for eight dollars back and an ice pack.