It Comes at Night (Shults, 2017)

Krisha was really great, so naturally I was excited to see what Trey Edward Shults would do as a follow-up. The ultra-personal, aggressively glum It Comes at Nightwas not quite what I was expecting. To his credit, he simmers down on the directorial showmanship and adapts well to the starker palette needed to tell this story, favouring a steadier approach that does a good job of maintaining the post-apocalyptic mood that the story warrants. It’s just that the story is too familiar for me to be jazzed about it, what with the ambiguous illness that plagues the characters, the unreliable perspective of the main character, the constant push and pull of suspicions and unexplained occurrences that drives everyone to the breaking point, and the rather ham-fisted obviousness of the “catch” in the title. More originality, or at least a better navigation of these well-worn tropes, would have improved this immensely.

I wasn’t bored, I wasn’t openly derisive of its faults, I… wasn’t much of anything, really. And that’s the problem. Whereas I can still remember many of Krisha’s key moments, this one is perpetually stuck in neutral, dutifully beating on and on until the final (admittedly strong) final image, but without ever making much impact. Good on Shults for finding an artistic outlet for his grief and pain, and perhaps in a similar mindset this film is devastating. But I’m hoping his next project moves away from the expected routes, as he’s certainly talented enough to take those risks.