Posts Tagged ‘Kelvin Harrison Jr.’

Kelvin Harrison Jr., Alexa Demie

“WAVES” My rating: B+

135 minutes | MPAA rating: R

“Waves” is about a suburban American family coming apart at the seams.  Featuring plot elements like teen pregnancy, substance abuse — even murder — it promises a melodramatic rollercoaster ride.

But writer/director Trey Edward Shults’ third feature (after the dysfunctional-family-reunion drama “Krisha” and the end-of-the-world-horror entry “It Comes at Night”) is more insightful than exploitative.  He’s aiming at something profound:  forgiveness.

The film’s first hour concentrates on Tyler (Kelvin Harrison Jr.), a handsome and charismatic high school senior with the world ahead of him.  He hopes to parlay his wrestling skills into a college scholarship; he has a beautiful girlfriend, Alexis (Alexa Demie); he’s a conscientious student and a talented pianist.

He lives in a nice home in Florida with his father Ronald (Sterling K. Brown), his stepmother Catharine (Renee Elise Goldsberry) and his younger sister Emily (Taylor Russell).

But small chinks are apparent in this happy facade.  Ronald, a homebuilder, practices tough love.  He insists on training with Tyler, injecting an element of unhealthy competition into the father/son dynamic. Ronald belongs to a generation of black men who see America as a racially charged environment, and so is always pushing his son: “We’re not afforded the luxury of being average.”

(For the young people depicted here, being black or white is a non-issue. They live in their own world of racial fluidity, leaving all the breast thumping to their elders.)

Tyler’s world comes crashing down when an MRI reveals a career-ending shoulder injury.  The doctor tells him to immediately stop physical activities and prepare for surgery; instead Tyler keeps this devastating diagnosis to himself, continues wrestling (until the pain won’t allow him to any more) and self medicates with liquor and pills stolen from his parents.

And for the perfect frosting on his very bad week, Alexis reports that she has missed her period. Tyler, panicked, pushes her to have an abortion. Result: an acrimonious breakup.

Then things get really ugly.


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Joel Egerton, Kelvin Harrison Jr.

“IT COMES AT NIGHT” My rating: B

97 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The “it” of “It Comes at Night” doesn’t creep about on four legs or slither on its belly.  No fangs or claws. No growls or shrieks.

The subject of Trey Edward Shults’ sophomore feature (after last year’s devastating family drama “Krisha”) is fear. Fear of both the unknown, of whatever may be lying in wait for us, and fear of our own human selves which, given the right circumstances, can devolve into monsters far scarier than those lurking in the imagination.

As the film opens an old man is dying.  His eyes are black. Festering pustules dot his  body. Blood seeps from his nose and mouth. He breathes in gasps.

Whatever is killing the old man has spooked the other members of his family, who say their muffled goodbyes through biohazard masks. Then they load him up in a wheelbarrow and push him out to a pit where he will be dispatched with one bullet and his remains burned.

This is the new normal for Paul (Joel Egerton), his wife Sarah (Carmen Ejogo), and their teenage son Travis (Kelvin Harrison Jr.).  They live in a house deep in the woods. The windows are boarded up so that from the outside the place looks abandoned. They don’t venture outside any more than is absolutely necessary.  They are on constant alert for unwanted visitors.

What catastrophe has befallen mankind that they must live this way?  Schults’ screenplay never provides an answer and, anyway, that’s not what “It Comes at Night” is about.

Late one night the three hear someone trying to break in.  They capture the intruder, a young man named Will (Christopher Abbott) who claims he thought the house was empty when he began scavenging for supplies. Will says his wife and young son are waiting for him in a cabin nearly 50 miles away.


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