It Comes At Night made me realize that some horror movies have too many ingredients. This one here contains: a family of three in a boarded-up, but otherwise intact, creaky house in the woods, banks of fog, sleeplessness and nightmares. That’s it. There are no aliens, knife-wielding loonies, supernatural catastrophes, magical-realist occurrences, ominous messages from beyond, or ghosts of any kind. There is no longer any electricity, and there is also no nonsense about someone sabotaging the generator in the middle of the night because there isn’t one. Paul and Sarah and their teenage son Travis have to make do with camping lanterns. That sounds slightly arthouse-y and intellectual for a horror flick, but it’s way better than any other genre exercise I’ve come across lately, with the exception of A Quiet Place.
Midnight Special is a sci-fi movie for those moviegoers who wouldn’t dream of going to see a sci-fi movie. It avoids many plot points that the genre might bring: no space wars, no dark against light, no dogfights, no exploding planets, no time travel. There isn’t even a spaceship in sight. It trusts its characters enough to drive the story forward and keeps a moderate pace so that we have a chance to think about how those three characters, two men and a boy, repeatedly find themselves in a boarded-up motel room.