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It Comes at Night

Kelvin Harrison Jr. stars in a scene from the movie "It Comes At Night." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/A24)

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- Morality is put to the test and fails in the bleak thriller "It Comes at Night" (A24). Well executed, yet painful to watch, writer-director Trey Edward Shults' drama plays skillfully on the psychology of fear, working more through subtlety and suggestion than depiction.

But maturity is required to grapple with its lifeboat ethics and tacit acceptance of euthanasia in extreme circumstances.

Set in a dystopian version of rural America that's being ravaged by an unspecified but inevitably fatal plague, the film powerfully conveys the claustrophobic isolation of the family -- dad Paul (Joel Edgerton), mom Sarah (Carmen Ejogo) and teen son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) -- at the center of its plot.

Since any contact with an infected stranger could mean death, the cooped-up clan is terrified when an intruder, Will (Christopher Abbott), breaks into their home in the middle of the night. Though they initially treat him like a prisoner, tying him up and interrogating him, they eventually come to accept Will's story that he was only looking for supplies and thought the house was empty.

Deciding they would all be better off combining forces, Paul and Sarah invite Will to bring his wife, Kim (Riley Keough), and toddler son, Andrew (Griffin Robert Faulkner), to live with them. But anxiety and suspicion eventually undermine the good intentions behind this arrangement, with horrifying results.

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