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Film review: IT COMES AT NIGHT, by Nick Gardener from ‘Built For Speed’

Post-apocalyptic survivalist thriller It Comes at Night is a stylish slow-burn film that delivers palpable tension and some effective scares but suffers due to its minimalist plot.

Joel Edgerton and Carmen Ejogo and Kelvin Harrison Jr play Paul, Sarah and Travis one of what seems to be few surviving families following an unnamed global catastrophe. Eking out a rugged existence in their fortified forest home they live in constant fear of an unseen menace. At first the film feels like a Walking Dead-style post apocalypse thriller but suddenly changes to an intense study of social and family dynamics when the paranoid Paul allows a refugee, Will (Christopher Abbott) and his family into the fortress.

While tere isn’t a lot more to the story and it occasionally feels like an episode of a sci-fi anthology tv series padded out to feature length, there’s a lot to admire about It Comes at Night. Writer/ director Trey Edward Shults creates a menacing atmosphere by carefully ratcheting up the alpha male tension between Paul and Will and the sexual tension between 17-year-old Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr) and Will’s young wife Kim (Riley Keogh).

While low-budget and low-key the film contains some remarkable visuals with atmospheric cinematography from Drew Daniels and wonderfully tense scenes of people creeping along spooky passageways at night.

Also, fine performances from the entire cast elevate this film beyond the average horror flick. Joel Edgerton has carved out a very effective niche as a grumpy paranoid redneck in recent times and he seems genuinely dangerous here. Kelvin Harrison Jr is also excellent as a young man with typical youthful needs and ambitions trying to cope with this bizarre confined world.

Even though the plot is a little thin, with exceptional talent in front of and behind the camera It Comes at Night is still one of this year’s stand-out films.

Nick’s rating: ***1/2

Genre: Horror/ thriller.

Classification: MA15+.

Director(s): Trey Edward Shults.

Release date: 6th July 2017.

Running time: 92 mins.

Reviewer: Nick Gardener can be heard on “Built For Speed” every Friday night from 8-10pm right here on 88.3 Southern FM.  Nick can also be heard on “The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Film Show” podcast. http://subcultureentertainment.com/2014/02/the-good-the-bad-the-ugly-film-show

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