So, what happens when you combine a plague, paranoia, and a low budget with a cast of less than a dozen people?  It Comes at Night is such a movie -- and it's painfully flat and boring.

The movie opens with someone apparently infected and sick, being taken to the forest for a mercy killing and body burning.  We're told (not shown, alas) that there's some sort of incredibly infectious disease that's caused the collapse of civilization.  Paul (Joel Edgerton) survives, with gas masks and plenty of firearms, in his house in the woods with his teenage son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), and the family dog.  They follow Paul's rules, live simply, and barricade themselves in the house at night.
Their existence is changed when someone tries to break into the house at night.  This would be Will (Christopher Abbott), who's searching to trade food for water for his family.  Paul is initially skeptical, but he eventually allows Will's family -- young wife Kim (Riley Keough) and their young son Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner) -- to integrate with his family, living and working together.  But Paul's fear of infection remain, there are mysterious sounds in the woods, and Travis is having both nightmares and fantasies about the newcomers to their home.
While bare-bones movies can sometimes work (Clerks, The Blair Witch Project), It Comes at Night doesn't work on so many levels.  We never get to learn anything about the characters, making it hard to root for or sympathize with any of them.  (The bland acting doesn't help either.)  Most of the scares come from Travis' nightmares, which isn't an effective source of terror.  And there's little payoff for the few mysteries introduced in the movies.  This was a huge disappointment.

Overall grade: F
Reviewed by James Lynch

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