Film

Movie review: 'It Comes at Night'

Frightening thriller plays with audience expectations

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A highly focused thriller with sci-fi overtones, ‘It Comes at Night” just might keep you up past your bedtime. For nightmares? Maybe, but the uneasy gut feeling that lingers is more the culprit.

Writer-director Trey Edward Shults carefully constructs the plot to deliberately leave some things unsaid and, in some cases, completely omitted. As in the classic horror movie sense, intention is the key to leading your audience through the fun house, carefully doling out only as much information as they need to keep them on the edge of their seats.

In this movie, we are introduced to a family of three: Paul, Sarah and Travis, played respectively by Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo and Kelvin Harrison Jr. There was a fourth, a grandfather named Bud (David Pendleton), whose fate in an opening scene demonstrates that these people are survivors of some mysterious global pandemic. That’s why they live in a cabin, hidden way back in the woods, wear gas masks if they have to venture outside and protect their very existence with deadly force. It’s also the reason they burn their dead before burial.

This world is bleak and yet these three have somehow been able to keep it together. That is, until one night, a man is caught trying to break into their fortified home. We will come to know this man as Will (Christopher Abbott). It turns out that Will is not a bad man, only desperate and hoping to find food and supplies for his wife, Kim, and small child (Riley Keough and Griffin Robert Faulkner). Paul takes a chance on Will and believes him, even hopping into the family pickup and going with Will to retrieve them so they could take shelter in his home.

Once there, certain rules are set down for everyone’s safety. These include eating only two meals a day, both eaten at the kitchen table, and sharing all chores.

Amid all this, we also discover that teenage Travis has been having strange nightmares. Some involve the awful fate of his grandfather, while others involve what might be outside at night, what might happen to his folks and himself and what might be the real intentions of these new people in his home. He tries to answer the latter by sneaking into a small room under the stairs where he can eavesdrop on their conversations.

On the surface, the story is about survival in the days, weeks and months after what may be the apocalypse and what a man must do — however distasteful, dangerous and immoral — to keep his family safe and hidden from anyone or any thing that might cause them harm. But, there is also the question of Travis’ nightmares and what role they may play in what happens to both of these families and maybe even the world, for that matter. In some respects, there is the slightest hint of an old “Twilight Zone” episode titled “It’s a Good Life” (1961).

Whatever comes at night isn’t exactly what you might think, but it is something unexpected, frightening and certainly unnerving. Now, try to sleep well.

“It Comes at Night” is rated R for violence, disturbing images and language.

This film is screening daily at Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theaters, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Also showing in Taos

The following were compiled from press materials

The Mummy

MPAA rating: PG-13 for violence, action and scary images, some suggestive content and partial nudity

Mitchell Storyteller 7

Tom Cruise stars as Nick Morton, a soldier of fortune who plunders ancient sites for timeless artifacts and sells them to the highest bidder.

Thought safely entombed in a tomb deep beneath the unforgiving desert, an ancient princess (Sofia Boutella of “Kingsman: The Secret Service” and “Star Trek Beyond”) whose destiny was unjustly taken from her is awakened in our current day, bringing with her malevolence grown over millennia and terrors that defy human comprehension.

When Nick and his partner come under attack in the Middle East, the ensuing battle accidentally unearths Ahmanet (Boutella), a betrayed Egyptian princess who was entombed under the desert for thousands of years.

Nick revives a day later and is greeted by Dr. Henry Jekyll (Russell Crowe), the head of Prodigium, a secret society dedicated to hunting supernatural threats. He tells Nick that he was chosen by the princess to become what appears to be the key to her conquest of the planet.

From the sweeping sands of the Middle East through hidden labyrinths under modern-day London, “The Mummy” brings a surprising intensity and balance of wonder and thrills in an imaginative new take that ushers in a new world of gods and monsters.

Cruise is joined by a cast including Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson and Courtney B. Vance. The creative team on this action-adventure event is led by director-producer Alex Kurtzman and producer Chris Morgan.

This film will be screened daily.

Mitchell Storyteller 7 Theatres, 110 Old Talpa Cañón Road. For show times, tickets and additional information, call (575) 751-4245 or visit storyteller7.com.

Queen of the Desert

MPAA rating: PG-13 for brief nudity and some thematic elements

Movies at the TCA

Nicole Kidman and director Werner Herzog bring to life the extraordinary true story of a trailblazing woman who found freedom in the faraway world of the Middle East.

Gertrude Bell (Kidman) chafes against the stifling rigidity of life in turn-of-the-century England, leaving it behind for a chance to travel to Tehran. So begins her lifelong adventure across the Arab world, a journey marked by danger, a passionate affair with a British officer (James Franco) and an encounter with the legendary T.E. Lawrence (Robert Pattinson).

Stunningly shot on location in Morocco and Jordan, “Queen of the Desert” reveals how an ahead-of-her-time woman shaped the course of history.

This film will be screened at 2 p.m. Sunday (June 18) and at 7 p.m. Monday through Wednesday (June 19-21).

Movies at the TCA film series, Taos Community Auditorium, 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For tickets and additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052 or visit tcataos.org.

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