Following his debut film Krisha, director and writer Trey Edward Shults once again proves he is a talented psychological horror filmmaker in It Comes at Night.
Shults’s sophomore film explores themes of death and paranoia in a post-apocalyptic story about a family of three, played by Carmen Ejogo, Joel Edgerton, Kelvin Harrison, that accepts another seeking refuge and resources into its household. This act eventually results in moral uncertainty, fearful tension, and violence between the two families that is gut-wrenchingly realistic.”This is not a conventional movie; come at it with an open mind,” suggests Shults, explaining, “I made this hopefully, more than to scare you, to make you think.” Edgerton and Harrison speak about why they got involved with the film, what it was like working with Shults, and what it was like to portray their characters.
Read our exclusive red carpet interviews from the New York premiere at Metrograph.
How did you get involved with It Comes at Night?
Joel: I found out Trey was making another movie, and I really skipped, and I thought it was incredible. I watched Krisha, his first film, and I met him, and it was these great reasons that led me to think it was a no-brainer. I think he’s an incredibly confident young filmmaker, who on a $35,000 dollar budget in Krisha proved that he could make Thanksgiving during the day in a regular American household terrifying, and if he couldn’t turn this into a terrifying movie. I don’t know who could.
What was it like working with him?
Joel: I love him. He’s so young and confident and supremely amazing, and I would do another movie with him in a heartbeat.
What is your character like and what was most challenging about portraying him?
Joel: Where the characters are, it’s so hard to imagine any kind of empathy or sympathy from my character, and yet to me, the challenge was understanding how and why we get to that place, so that was a real challenge. I’m playing a man who thinks he’s the leader of the household when really, he’s just a regular guy who’s been put in a situation of having to protect his family against this force that is very dark and dangerous. That was a real challenge—just finding a domestic man who was trying to be a leader.
Why were you initially drawn towards It Comes at Night?
Carmen: I was drawn towards this film because I guess Joel Edgerton and Trey Shults had me in mind as an idea, so I read the script and loved it, but what I loved equally was Trey’s first film, which is phenomenal and makes it very obvious that this is a visionary and a true auteur who is going to be around for a long time. I was going to be happy, even if I hadn’t read the script, to be part of anything he was making next.
What was it like working with Trey?
Carmen: Really very satisfying on so many levels. He’s a director that has enough confidence in his own vision that he doesn’t feel the need to constantly dictate to the actors what needs to happen. It gives them the freedom to play and, in fact, encourages play and improvisation in a way that I think is really the mark of someone who knows what they have on their hands.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character and what was challenging about portraying her?
Carmen: I play Sarah, who is the wife of Joel Edgerton’s character, mother of Kelvin Harrison’s character, who’s really our lead, and we are a unit that is trying to grapple with the aftereffects of some lingering disease, which we really have no idea as to how it will affect us. I’m very maternal, very protective of my brood and of my family unit, but particularly of my son. It’s an interesting dynamic because every scene is so interestingly realistic. In fact, I am compelled to both stick by my husband, even when he is doing or suggesting ideas that are going to go in the face of what’s best for my son. Ultimately, though, I think a mother’s love overpowers any other kind. That’s really, in the end, what really triumphs.
Do you relate to your character or any of the themes in the film?
Carmen: I think it’s very symbolic and metaphorical in some ways, and one can consider it allegorical to some degree, but I don’t think that was every really Trey’s intention. I think this just happens to be someone who has his pulse on what is zeitgeist, and I’m just glad that I feel like I’m part of something that feels like it has resonance and relevance to politically and socially, even though that wasn’t the intention.
Also in attendance were cast Riley Keough, Christopher Abbott and Kelvin Harrison Jr. and additional celebrity guests such as Zoe Kazan, Paul Dano, Alex Karpovsky, and more! Following the premiere, guests headed to the after party where they enjoyed drinks, courtesy of Ruffino Wines.
It Comes at Night premieres in theaters on June 9th.
Photos by: Reyna Wang