"I will say I care way less about unpacking how this, like the logic of it," says Shults. "What I care about is, and why I like the movie to have an openness is [that] it can kind of mean different things to you. I have movies I'll revisit after years of seeing and I see it in a new way. I'll see something new about it. When a movie can have that openness, that's what I really love."
According to Shults, a seven-year estrangement from his father, who battled addiction throughout his life, and a deathbed reconciliation where the dying man repented to his son, inspired It Comes at Night. He began writing the screenplay just two months after his father's death.
Shults knows he's testing the audience by holding back. "I feel like my movie, and in particular in this genre, people want to know what's going on, want it tied up and I'm not doing that, so it's probably extra frustrating. For me, it's like the storytelling I believe in and I don't approach a movie on a genre to genre basis. I just approach movies all in the same way."
So don't expect any post-screening revelations or spoiler-heavy Reddit AMAs. It Comes at Night is complete as incomplete. There are no twists or post-credit scenes to swoop in and comfort you. Some horror movies jump out at you for a thrill. Shults's stab at horror dredges dread from the deepest bowels of human experience. It's not always pleasant… but it's absorbing.
"Yeah, but the red door!" Don't worry -- it haunts Shults, too.
"[The] red door has been in my dreams," he says with a laugh. "But for me in the movie, it's like what the red door leads to. It's emptying out a lot of stuff."