Release Date: June 9, 2017
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Writer: Trey Edward Shults
Cast: Joel Edgerton, Christopher Abbott, Carmen Ejogo, Riley Keough, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Griffin Robert Faulkner, David Pendleton, Mikey, Chase Joilet, Mick O’Rourke
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 97 minutes
Production Company: Animal Kingdom, A24
Genre: Horror, Mystery
The true color of humanity emerges most when one is most desperate. There’s numerous forms of emotion that are present in this dramatic mystery, but that one stands out the most. These characters are desperate to survive, and with a sound plan, a strong will, and superb directing by Trey Edward Shults (Krisha), it appears everything will come to a positive fruition. Besides the characters and the predicament they’re in, high recognition should go towards the man behind the camera. For having a film set in only a couple of locations, Shults is able to coerce you to care about every surrounding detail as if you designed it yourself. There’s a high amount of technical achievements through the lighting, the score, and the whole atmosphere which may be better than the story itself. Though with films like this, it all goes to waste if the conclusion never delivers or pays off.
Far off in the woods set in a desolate remote location, a family of no known origin buckles down with few supplies as they try to make it throughout each day. There’s an unknown threat lurking around and if not careful one may meet their demise. There are rules set in place to follow, with the most important being not to Go Outside at Night. Of course this isn’t the life of every day society, but at the very least it’s intriguing. Without an overabundance of bland exposition, the film is quiet, and leaves it up to you with all its visual cues to make out what’s happening. It’s a unique way to start the film, and gets you engaged, because you’re dying to know what’s going on. Then with a few answers to your questions things come to light, but you’re still not at full understanding of the full scope of the environment.
Once you’re engaged, the film opens up more, giving you the life of the family. There isn’t anything special about them, but you respect every precaution they take to make sure they stay alive. Then it only raises the question more, “What in the world is out there that makes living or going outside so dangerous?” I like to think of this film as a more mature version of The Walking Dead. Where there’s a virus going around killing everyone slowly, yet without any laws that govern us human beings, making humans just as dangerous. The only difference is the locations and the focus on one family. And at night time things get intense for no reason. This isn’t a knock, but it pulls you towards the end of your seat. There isn’t any artificial light used in the settings. Whether in the daytime or night, it all felt natural. At night, the only lighting or perspective you see is the light from the flashlight of the character. This makes the setting feel real and dangerous, and you the audience member are just on edge as the characters in the film. The soundtrack in the background hypes it up even more, with an eerie sound with bass making the entire situation more horrifying.
Though after a while you’re wondering where the film is going. You can’t help to think how will this all conclude. What’s frustrating is the inconsistency that starts to take place. Once tension starts to rise up with the thought of a big bang coming around the corner it’s a false alarm that teases you. Then it is only replaced with a dream sequence from one character in particular that’s never fully explained. It can be interpreted as some form of metaphor or a look into the future, but once the film ends, and you look back there was no real significance to it. I think it’s safe to say that most movie goers would prefer a film that starts out terrible, but ends on a good note, opposed to the opposite. Unfortunately for this film, it takes on the latter. While the film wasn’t mind blowing to the roof, it was enough to get you going if the ending paid the price. The ending was inevitable, and the choice to go there was bold, but the steps the film took were completely unnecessary. There are many ways to the top of the mountain, and towards the conclusion the writer Shults decided to take the most difficult path to get there and didn’t welcome you once you arrived. Overall, it’s a decent film that leaves you hanging, lead on, and wanting more.