Exactly half of the trailer for Trey Edward Shults’ new thriller It Comes at Night consists of an eerie walk down a hallway.
For 48 uninterrupted seconds, the screen is trapped within the narrow wooden walls of a remote cabin. On the righthand wall hangs a photo collage of family moments: sepia-tone smiles and graduation caps in quaint, endearing frames. But the long shot begins on the opposite side. The left wall is completely bare but for one oil-on-canvas painting of a medieval hellscape in a gilt antique frame. It depicts death riding to battle, wielding his scythe from the back of a skeletal horse. As the camera pans ominously away from this contained apocalypse and begins its long dolly down the hallway of good times gone by, a voiceover conversation introduces the audience to a familiar end-of-the-world scenario: sickness, isolation, paranoia, death. At the end of the hallway is a worryingly crimson door.
The rest of the trailer intercuts the dolly to the door with tidbits of traditional isolation-thriller fare. Joel Edgerton threatens violence from behind a pretty sick beard. A (probably doomed) dog barks into the seemingly empty woods. A crying maternal figure gives repeated and unconvincing assurances that “it’s okay.” These cuts are set to an increasing tempo, ratcheting up the tension to culminate in a flip-book montage of faces that ends with a very gory grin.
It Comes at Night is Shults’ second feature, following Krisha, a micro-budget family drama which won both the Audience and Grand Jury awards at SXSW in 2015. It also fulfills the second half of a two-picture contract Shults signed with A24 that year, after they picked up Krisha for distribution. MM
It Comes at Night opens in theaters August 25, 2017, courtesy of A24.