In writer-director Trey Edward Shults' It Comes at Night, a soul-crushingly dark examination of human nature amid an invisible and unnatural threat, human life remains intact in but one house in the forest, a blazingly red door the only thing that separates a family from certain death. Every scene carries the possibility that it could all end right there.
Mother Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), father Paul (Joel Edgerton) and 17-year-old son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) must wear gas masks when exiting the home. Shults never lets us see exactly what in the forest they're so scared of, but we know the result of coming into contact with whatever is out there. In the opening scene, Grandpa Bud (David Pendleton) is covered head to toe with purple sores, his irises glazed white, his mouth leaking hints of black blood. Paul and Travis put a bullet in his head and burn the body. What would happen if they didn't immolate Grandpa?
Soon a stranger, Will (Christopher Abbott), presents Paul with a deal he can't turn down: pooling the resources of a second family. They agree, but -- like the unknown sickness -- Paul's paranoia is contagious. Though Sarah doesn't get much screen time, her absence may reveal darker truths about what could happen when society breaks down. Here, traditional gender roles get subtly reinforced. Paul's omission of the women from key moments carries just as much terror as anything coming from outside. What humanity will women lose when the world goes to hell?