Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘It Comes at Night’ (2017)



Must the archetypal intruder take corporeal form before becoming a threatening and terrifying presence?

Early in It Comes at Night, the hallmark of the deadly interloper – a mysterious and deadly illness – is Neptunian invisibility. Written and directed by Trey Edward Shults, the movie milks this uncertainty for all it’s worth. Sarah’s (Carmen Ejogo) elderly father, gasping for breath and whose body is marked by sores, is dying. Her husband Paul (Joel Edgerton) and their son Travis (Kelvin Harrison, Jr.) know that a bullet to the head is the only remedy for the specter of getting “sick.”

Protected by gas masks, the three-member family play by Saturnine rules: order and discipline, careful keeping of the sole key to the front door and no going out alone. Soon a physical, flesh-and-blood male intruder enters the picture in typical Mars’ fashion by aggressively breaking into the home.

After overnight captivity – Paul ties the man, Will (Christopher Abbott), to a tree – Paul decides to check out Will’s story that he was just trying to provide for his own family: wife Kim (Riley Keough) and young son (Griffin Robert Faulkner). The three newbies pass muster and are soon welcomed into Paul’s fortified home, with the understanding they’ll stringently abide by the house regulations.

Travis also takes on the role of archetypal intruder, one who has stumbled into a world not of his own making. His teenage hormones frustratingly hint at the normal adult life he may never know. His insomnia, which provokes him to wander through the narrow hallways of the house, is guided by a lantern that gives off brightness but not enlightenment. And his Neptunian dreams, no doubt edged on by the print of Bruegel’s “The Triumph of Death” that hangs in his room, often hew way too close to a grim, death-is-all-around lifestyle.

How does it work out with the new roomies? No surprise that the boldness, forcefulness and aggression associated with the archetypal intruder can easily become the shadow side of the protector.

Archetype: Intruder.

Astrology Archetype: ♂ ♆ ♇  (Mars, Neptune, Pluto)

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