Some films are so atmospheric, you can almost feel the temperature. Apocalypse Now evokes this hot humidity, Lawrence of Arabia and its burning desert heat make you want to open the three top buttons of your shirt and get another cold drink from the fridge. Hold the Dark goes the other way: there are few films that make you feel the need to huddle under a warm cover with a mug of hot chocolate like this one. The Alaskan tourism board may be pleased with how beautiful the state’s wilderness looks in Jeremy Saulnier’s latest film, but it is a forbidding beauty that makes you wonder whether it is worth the freezing temperatures and the apparent likelihood of being killed by a wolf. Doubly so if that wolf wears the skin of a human being.
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.
I like drifters. I am fascinated by them because I am not one of them, and never really have been. Story-wise, you never know what’s going to happen to them, or where they will go. Neither do they. Their stories are full of surprises, and screenwriters and directors often use them as the center of a road movie, the kind that doesn’t seem to have a destination. Star, the young heroine in Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, played by newcomer Sasha Lane, is not a drifter in the strictest sense, but she is on the road because she’s had it with her old life: looking after two kids that are not her own, avoiding her lecherous boyfriend, eating out of dumpsters, being broke. Something needs to happen, and soon. Continue reading