It Comes at Night

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
It Comes at Night Movie Poster Image
Pessimistic drama/horror blend is dark and unsettling.
  • R
  • 2017
  • 97 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

The central message isn't exactly clear, but whatever it is, it's extremely pessimistic, with no faith in human goodness or kindness. Clearly, however, the movie wishes viewers to discuss something. What does it all mean?

Positive role models & representations

Characters occasionally show reluctant trust and try to help one another, but paranoia and brutality always win out. Those who are on the more loving and trusting end of the spectrum end up being punished for "letting down their guard."

Violence

Characters have gross, gory diseases: boils, black bile spilling out of their mouths, etc. Injured dog, bloody fur, plus painful whining. Guns and shooting, characters shot and killed (including children). Dead bodies are burned. Punching, beating with blunt objects. Character are imprisoned, gagged, and tied to a tree. Scary nightmare sequences. Disturbing imagery and sounds.

Sex

Couple kisses in a bathtub (no graphic nudity) and in bed. Sex noises heard -- heavy breathing, groaning, etc. -- through walls (nothing shown). In a nightmare sequences, a woman kisses a teen boy.

Language

A few uses of "f--k" or "f--king," plus "s--t," "son of a bitch."

Consumerism
Drinking, drugs & smoking

Characters share a cup of whisky. Later, a character takes a drink of whisky alone.

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.

User Reviews

Adult Written bySam Marrick June 9, 2017

Emotional and intense apocalypse story. Not a horror movie. Not for everyone

An effective minimalist domestic drama about the impact of fear on a family. Well done writing and directing with just the right amount of pathos and dread. Th... Continue reading
Adult Written byIan F. September 2, 2017

Absolutely Terrible.

This movie was completely not wha any of you think. No horror, no cliff hangers. No scary parts or endings. Movie was absolutely terrible. Wasted 3 hours of my... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byDj25king June 19, 2017

Chills, Mystery, & Thrilling.

I Thought it was great. “Can’t trust anybody but family”, the greatest thing to fear in these woods isn’t the disease, or the people hoping to take their food a... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byAdam Atom September 29, 2017

WARNING: NOT FOR EVERYBODY!!

Despite the movie itself being fantastic, the tone is not appropriate for young audiences who may or may not be curious about the movie. The end gets very depre... Continue reading

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?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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