Here is the introduction to It Comes At Night from Friday 7th July by regular Fright Club historian Darrell Buxton. There is still time to catch It Comes At Night at QUAD, Derby. Tickets are on sale here.
Hello and welcome to QUAD for the first of our ‘Fright Club’ double bill this evening. Later on we’ll be showing Greg McLean’s gripping new shocker about office workers bumping each other off, THE BELKO EXPERIMENT, but we’re kicking off tonight with IT COMES AT NIGHT, a new movie that’s been receiving a lot of attention and critical acclaim since its American release about a month ago.
There’s been quite a wave of recent American horror, science-fiction, and apocalyptic movies with a low-key, claustrophobic feel to them. Our type of movie has always thrived on the basic approach – often filmmakers without much in the way of resources have found the best way to actually get a movie made was to create a story played out on a few small sets, with a core number of central characters, and this has increasingly proved an effective template for films that disturb, surprise, or shock.
Maybe the modern version of this trend was kickstarted a few years back by Chris Gorak’s 2006 movie RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR, where the detonation of dirty bombs throughout Los Angeles causes lethal toxins to drift across the city, and we focus upon one married couple with the wife inside the house and the husband outside, unable to enter for fear of poisoning the air within the sealed property.
EXORCIST director William Friedkin trapped two paranoid characters in a room in his 2006 film BUG, with Michael Shannon trying to convince Ashley Judd of a government plot concerning infestation of human beings by microscopic insects. Even the all-star comedy THIS IS THE END, with its big name cast playing themselves at a Hollywood party, is true to its title as light beams carry victims away into the air and a gigantic earthquake signals the end of the world; despite a $32 million budget this one too plays as a decidedly close-knit, ‘all in it together’ shocker played out in a confined area.
And 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE posed the question, is John Goodman a sweaty, psychopathic kidnapper and torturer, or are his wild tales of Something Strange lurking outside his specially-constructed bunker really true?
IT COMES AT NIGHT extends this spate of enclosed, minimal, anxiety-filled yarns. Director Trey Edward Shults hit big with the critics on release of his debut movie KRISHA last year – that was a low-cost, semi-autobiographical story where an elderly lady with a disastrous, dysfunctional past is invited by her family for Thanksgiving dinner, about which David Fear in ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine said “all the retro slow zooms, dread-inducing Steadicam shots and ominous droning on the soundtrack key viewers that this isn’t a family drama so much as a domestic horror film – THE SHINING with metaphorical ghosts”. KRISHA was shot on a tiny, small-change budget at Shults’ parents’ house – IT COMES AT NIGHT is a bigger, more expansive work in comparison, made for around $3 million, but retains that basic, closed-in manner and approaches its heightened storyline with realism and authenticity.
Like the best of these no-nonsense shockers, IT COMES AT NIGHT makes a virtue of its smallness – in the same way as M. Night Shyamalan’s SIGNS, it indicates that there’s a major global phenomenon ‘out there’ but only reveals this through the eyes of a single family, gradually leaking more and more information to us in precisely the same way that a deadly virus or similar outbreak might agonisingly spread. Director Shults has slightly refuted the ‘horror film’ tag under which IT COMES AT NIGHT has been marketed – he recently said “I’m happy to call it a horror movie if you want, but I never approached it as ‘this is a horror movie’. It’s so weird that it’s being presented as straight-up horror. A lot of people will not like what it is – but I hope it makes them think”.
Now here at Fright Club we love our straight, traditional, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin fright flicks; but we really groove on the ones that offer a challenge, that play around with the form of the genre, that maybe confuse some audience members and confront their expectations. I think both of this evening’s offerings promise to do just that. I hope you’ll join us for the brilliant BELKO EXPERIMENT later on, but for now, put your gas masks on and prepare yourselves for Armageddon.