Released 6th July (Australia)
Seen 7th November
Written and Directed by Trey Edward Schults
Produced by Animal Kingdom & A24
Starring Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, Chris Abbott and Riley Keough
Some horror films like to terrify you by submerging you in a world filled with violence and screams and a high body count, some prefer to put you into a world where everything’s gone to hell and no one’s going to be able to make it out no matter how hard they try… this film is the latter kind of horror film and I genuinely love it.
Set after an unnamed illness has swept the world, the film focusses on a little family of Paul (Played by Joel Edgerton), Sarah (Played by Carmen Ejogo) and Travis (Played by Kelvin Harrison Jr) who are living in a small house in the middle of nowhere to try and ensure they never fall victim to this illness. One day they find that a man named Will (Played by Christopher Abbott) has broken into their house in order to try and get supplies for his family and so, in order to try and maintain some power in this situation, they allow Will to bring his family into their home. Once Will’s wife Kim (Played by Riley Keough) and son Andrew (Played by Griffin Faulkner) move in they try their best to make this new arrangement work which might not be easy with a world that’s barely still functioning.
This cast is just excellent. This is one of those horror films where they have a very limited cast to focus on and you end up falling in love with each one. You understand that both these families have been through hell and somehow found a way to survive in a world that’s trying to kill them. Even in the first scene when they’re forced to handle some truly uncomfortable business, you feel for them because you can tell that they’re sadly used to doing this and it still hurts and haunts them. Their interactions feel real, it feels like a real pair of families trying to get by when no one else is alive. It’s got a feel of a Zombie movie, without the Zombies. It’s that same dread of knowing that something is going to try and kill you and you have no power to stop it, only fend it off for as long as you can.
Visually this film just paints with light, it uses it sparingly and when needed. I love a good film where they shoot a few scenes in the dark in creative ways and this film does that, you never feel at ease because you know that the limited light could be hiding anything and when it finally reveals something important, you feel it in your gut. It’s refreshing to see a film that knows how to use it’s limited resources carefully and in a way that never feels old, throughout the film the low lighting didn’t become annoying and helped create a lot of the unease and tension that kept the film interesting. Also, I loved how they used the aspect ratio in this film, it’s a tiny touch to have the physical frame of the film change during dream sequences but it’s a nice touch AND how good directors do the whole “Different aspect ratio” thing *Coughcough*Transformers5stillsucks*Coughcough*
I will warn you that this film is a slow build, more interested in making you feel uncomfortable than outright horrifying you. It creates a slow depressing feeling that crescendos nicely at the end, but if you’re not OK with slow builds then this film might get on your nerves a little. I must confess there was a point where I wanted a jump scare just to break the tension but the film knew better and held back long enough that when it went for the final attack, I was all in.
In general, it’s a good effective horror film that has one of the bleakest endings out there… along with a bleak middle and a bleak beginning, it’s very bleak in general but it’s very good at it thanks to a great cast and a good script for them to work with.