A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that It Comes at Night has been promoted as a horror film, but it's not exactly that. Nor is it a thriller or a sci-fi movie; it's more like an apocalyptic, deeply pessimistic, deeply unsettling drama. It's not the kind of scary fun that horror lovers usually enjoy, though it's definitely violent and mature. Characters have gory diseases, with boils and black bile dribbling from their mouths, as well as guns and shooting. Characters are killed, bodies are burned, people punch and fight each other, and there's a painfully injured dog. You can also expect nightmare sequences and disturbing images and sounds. A couple kisses n a bathtub and in bed, and sex noises are heard, but there's no nudity. Language includes a few uses of "f--k," "s--t," and "bitch." Characters share a casual drink of whisky.
What's the story?
In IT COMES AT NIGHT, a mysterious, deadly disease has ravaged the land. Former teacher Paul (Joel Edgerton) has set up a fortress in the woods, complete with a stock of food and water, where he lives with his wife, Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), and teen son, Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.). Unfortunately, they've just had to shoot and burn Travis's grandfather, who was sick with the disease. One night, a strange man, Will (Christopher Abbott), breaks into the house. He's not sick but simply looking for food for his family, so Paul decides to let him, his wife (Riley Keough), and their young son stay. But something goes wrong. The family dog Stanley runs off into the woods, and then the little boy starts acting weirdly. Will Paul's stronghold withstand whatever's coming next?
Is it any good?
Trey Edward Shults, who made the powerful, harrowing Krisha, returns with a dark movie that's meticulously crafted and highly intelligent but also relentlessly pessimistic and deeply unsettling. It Comes at Night has been promoted as a horror movie, and it's certainly horrific, but it's not scary, and it's not likely something that "scary movie" horror fans will find enjoyable. It defies any other categories, too; it's not really a thriller (it's not thrilling), and it's barely a sci-fi movie (it's apocalyptic but not futuristic).
The movie depicts humanity in the darkest and most brutal of ways, without a shred of hope or goodness. And yet it has incredible use of sounds and movement, light and shadow -- all of which conjures up a vivid, visceral world. Travis, unable to sleep, wanders the house at night, lighting weird angles with a lantern and listening to muffled sounds from an upstairs perch. There's a constant sense of uncertainty and unease, as we realize that the greatest threats aren't the ones that can be seen -- or even heard banging on the red door.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about It Comes at Night's violence. How does it contribute to the movie's disturbing quality? Is it graphic, or is it suggestive?
Is the movie scary? Would you consider it a horror movie? Why or why not?
What do you suppose has happened to the world in this story? Where did the disease come from, and what will happen next?
What are the family relationships like here? Despite the dark circumstances, is any of the behavior similar to your family relationships?
- In theaters: June 9, 2017
- On DVD or streaming: September 12, 2017
- Cast: Riley Keough, Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo
- Director: Trey Edward Shults
- Studio: A24
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
- Run time: 97 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence, disturbing images, and language
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.