Trey Edward Shults’ gripping 2017 thriller, ‘It Comes at Night,’ unfolds within a desolate world where a family endeavors to survive amidst the harrowing uncertainty of an inexplicable menace lurking in the darkness beyond their secure abode. Their isolation is broken when another family comes to their doorstep, seeking refuge. Soon tensions escalate between them, igniting a web of fear, suspicion, and distrust. Shults’ masterful direction uses just one claustrophobic location and its surrounding landscape as its setting to craft an atmosphere of palpable dread and psychological turmoil.
It Comes at Night Filming Locations
‘It Comes at Night’ was filmed entirely in a secluded location on the periphery of Woodstock, New York. Filming at the abandoned property began in August 2016. Shults focused on using the filming site and its surrounding elements to craft an atmosphere of tension and fear of the unknown. The film’s ambiance of unease takes shape through the claustrophobic spaces of the house, the forests surrounding it, and simple, continuous slow zoom shots into the darkness. Allow us to take you to the specific filming site so integral to the narrative of the horror flick.
Woodstock, New York
The suspenseful movie was filmed on location in Woodstock, entirely around a single property situated in Byrdcliffe Colony. The Colony on Upper Byrdcliffe Way, lies at the northern edge of Woodstock, in Ulster County. The particular house seen in the film is fittingly secluded and lies at the periphery of the Byrdcliffe Colony. The property is quite old, likely built at the dawn of the 20th Century, and has servant quarters attached to it. Furthermore, the eerie house and its surrounding landscape are completely desolate, having no residents.
The Byrdcliffe Colony was purposefully built for seclusion and initially served as a writer’s retreat. The creation of the community was inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement, which was a counter to the dehumanizing industrialization taking place at the time. Founded in 1902 by writers and artists, Byrdcliffe is one of the oldest arts and crafts colonies in the country. Located on 300 acres of land, it contains 35 houses and is regarded as a historic district. It is open to visitors with self-guided tours, music, theater, and art performances held in the colony. The Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild also holds various workshops in the area. Further north of the colony, hiking trails lead to the mountaintop for Catskill views. The remote historical location, surrounded by a wooded expanse became the perfect site for creating the movie’s trepid atmosphere.
The ancient forest of Byrdcliffe became a character unto itself, representing a fear of the unknown, and hiding an ever-encroaching terror behind its twisting woods. The scene of the dog barking and running off into the forest is followed by a slow zoom shot between the roots of two upturned trees. These gnarled and uprooted woodland carcasses were discovered by the filmmakers near the house, and used to build an unsettling suspense. The Byrdcliffe Colony’s sprawled cottages and haunting groves can also be seen in the films ‘Blackout,’ ‘Art House,’ and the documentary, ‘Woodstock Revisited.’
As much of the film relies on long silences and drawn-out sequences to build suspense, sound design plays a pivotal role in the creation of a truly eerie ambiance. The filmmakers paid special attention to the differentiation of ambient sounds between indoor scenes and outdoor ones. The interior of the house was like a bunker, completely isolated, where all the characters are on high alert, listening. The deafening silence gives a similar experience to the audience, where even the slightest noise alerts the senses. Whenever a door or window is opened, the ambiance of the forest pours in through it. The dual atmospheric system creates a feeling of tense comfort and safety in the house while causing vulnerability and a burgeoning unease when characters are outside, or the external atmosphere breaches their home.
Nestled in the scenic Hudson Valley, the town of Woodstock boasts rustic architecture, while being surrounded by dense forests. The deeply wooded landscapes together with antiquated structures, offer a haunting atmospheric setting for horror flicks. The town is somewhat of a hidden gem when it comes to major film productions and has seen the shooting of horror movies like ‘Werewolves Within,’ and ‘Scare Me.’