Monday, 17 July 2017

Film: 'It Comes in the Night'

Once more I've been lured to see a film because of some good reviews and a rather high current average rating of '7' on IMDb - and now regret that I bothered with it. 

We don't get to know what the 'It' of the title is. All we learn is that a small family of father (Joel Edgerton), mother (Carmen Ejogo) and 17-year old son (Kelvin Harrison Jr), with their dog, are holed up in their isolated home of wood in the middle of a forest (State unidentified - film shot in Woodstock, NY) trying to keep a low, 'invisible' profile - venturing outside only when they have to, and then additionally wearing gas masks - presumably prevent their catching some kind of infection which has taken over the world? We never really find out.  
Then a stranger (Christopher Abbott) discovers and tries to enter their home, a youngish man who is mistrusted from the outset. ("Are you sick?") He is mistreated and threatened until it's revealed that he is only trying to find food and safety for his family of wife and infant son. These three move in with the first three, there always being an air of suspicion over the new arrivals.

It's more a film of suspense than a genuine 'horror' film as such but, dear me, how it predictably ticks all the boxes of cliche, every one of which is repeated several times. All so dull and unimaginative - including many entries into dark rooms clutching lamp or torch to investigate strange noises outside (door knob turning or being rattled). The methods used to make one jump are all so tired - an ominous, low humming sound which suddenly stops (you're supposed to give a sigh of relief now) - a few seconds of silence then..........thump! The number of times this is employed is just shameful. I could forecast with over 90% accuracy exactly when the 'frights' would come. Or there's a startling sound which turns out to be something everyday, only raised by a number of decibels in order to surprise one. (Thankfully we're spared any sudden appearance of a squealing cat!) At one point we've got the threadbare and unforgivable technique of viewing a dream which turns out be within another dream. This is not skilful or original filmic technique - it's simply damned lazy!  

It's a fairly gory film though many of this genre are a lot more so. Director (and writer) Trey Edward Shults thinks he's onto a winner with this. Maybe it will make more money than it cost by a younger audience going to see it who are less familiar with the methods employed to give one a 'thrill' than I was. I just found the whole effort pretty dismal................3

6 comments:

  1. I read a review of this film by Deborah Ross in the Spectator a couple of weeks ago and decided not to see it. She said more or less what you have just said. I won't be changing my mind. Thank you for the review.

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    1. There might have been the kernel of something more interesting lurking under the banalities, Rachel, but if there was it wasn't explored. It's just a waste!

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  2. I like suspense and horror, but I can do without the gore.

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    1. Suspense and horror? You've already seen better, Bob. And gore - well you'll have seen a lot more than in this. But either way, I can't say "You just HAVE to see it!"

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  3. I like a proper horror film that works on suspense and not graphic guts.

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    1. This one is only useful in counting the number of times they use the usual tricks to make one jump. As to intelligently employed, underlying tension, I think it's fairly bereft of it.

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