There's a killing virus released, and a family of four: the husband Paul, the wife Sarah, the son Travis, and their I think wolfhound Stanley, have taken refuge from a strange unpredictable world in their home, spending each day in mystery of whatever's out there during the night, hoping a sign will come to help them get rid of the virus. It already killed off Travis' grandfather. Then one day a family arrives out of the blue as refugees looking for water, and they do seem nice, and ordinary. But precautions have to be taken. Will these families get along and be able to survive whatever's out there?
I know I shouldn't be basing this entire review around my fascination with the prior ratings. I mean, the critics who get paid to go to midnight premieres and write reviews weren't aware of the future ratings and neither were the audiences. So why am I talking about it so much? Because I can see both sides to the argument, because It Comes at Night is like a slice of bread: It depends on what you, the viewer, decide to use it for, and then it either becomes delicious or gross. I can see It Comes at Night being on many worst and best movies of the year list when the Top lists come flooding in.
One of the things that I think won't be debatable is the camerawork and characters, its 6-person cast each delivering decent enough performances for all of us to remember their names long after the movie is over. There are also some long clips of walking through an extensive hallway, and I've done my homework on watching horror films by now. I put my hand over my head, but still watched it through stretched fingers. And sometimes there is no jump scare, and in this case, that's alright.
And yet...Here's what I mean about the controversy. I read an Imdb review of this film saying the screening it was playing at even had some "Boo"s when the credits played. It Comes at Night is certainly a different, maybe too different, production. If anything, I'd even call it an experiment on moviegoer expectation and reaction to something different. But that something different involves focusing on a certain kind of fear the characters face...and leaving out pretty much anything else. For instance, and this is going to be a little spoilery, so if you want, skip to the next paragraph. There's no explanation for this apocalypse. There's no explanation as to why some people shoot at Paul and Will in an earlier scene. There's no explanation for who left a door open in the middle of the night.
And the director explained in an interview that he wanted to create a world where we don't know any more than the main characters do, and sometimes, regular people aren't able to figure everything out. There's the thing that seemed to resonate with critics, and cause audiences to throw their soda at the screen. It's certainly experimental and risky filmmaking when you go so out of the box. For me, if I fully embraced what the movie tried to do, I'd have given it maybe a B or B+. But another standpoint gives it somewhere between a D and F. And as I said, I stubbornly fall under both, and yet I felt like its overuse of this idea made the movie feel like there were some wasted opportunities.