It Comes At Night Explained (Ending & Plot Analysis)

It Comes At Night is a horror thriller written and directed by Trey Edward Shults. The film follows a family trying to survive a pandemic in a post-apocalyptic world. While the summary sounds similar to A Quiet Place or Bird Box, it’s not an action flick. The film is a well-grounded drama and feels very real, like The Visit. Do give it a watch, and once you have those burning questions, continue reading. Here’s the plot and ending of It Comes At Night explained; spoilers ahead.

In this episode of Film Exploder, we slice and dice the film It Comes At Night and what it means:

buy me a coffee button This Is Barry

Hollywordle – Check out my new Hollywood Wordle game!

Where To Watch?

To find where to stream any movie or series based on your country, use This Is Barry’s Where To Watch.

Oh, and if this article doesn’t answer all of your questions, drop me a comment or an FB chat message, and I’ll get you the answerYou can find other film explanations using the search option on top of the site.


Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

It Comes At Night: What is the monster?

There is no monster; there is a plague that has caused the deaths of most humans. The symptoms seem to be large rashes and stupor and eventually, death. The film starts with an old, disoriented grandfather who is infected, being shot and burned by his own family. They do this to ensure the rest of them can be protected from the disease.

Why is it called It Comes At Night?

It is the symptoms of the disease that appear at night in the form of nightmares, which eventually cause the person to become dazed and confused, possibly start sleepwalking, and eventually develop large black rashes. It is also the paranoia that comes along with the disease, the helplessness of watching your loved one dying, and the fear of contracting it. It’s precisely what we faced when the world was swept by Covid.

It Comes At Night: Plot Explained

Will It Comes At Night

The survivors are Paul, Sarah, Travis, and their dog, who live in a house bolted down from the inside. One night, a stranger tries to break in. Paul overpowers him and ties him to a tree for a couple of days to be sure he is free of infections. The man identifies himself as Will and says he lives 50 miles away with his wife and son, Kim and Andrew. He also mentions that he only tried to break in because he thought the house was empty.

Paul figures leaving Will on his own is dangerous, so he decides to go with him, fetch his family and bring them back so they can coexist by pooling their supplies. On the way, Will and Paul get attacked by a couple of guys who were up to no good, started making trouble in the neighbourhood (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

Does Will know the two guys who attack?

It appears that Will may know these two guys who attack. Will might have encountered them in the past. They could have also been part of the same group, but Will decided to move away with his family to be away from the violence. These speculations are based on the fact that Will tries to stop Paul from killing one of the guys, and when asked, Will gives a vague reason that they could have questioned him to learn more. The movie leaves it at that, and we never get a concrete answer.

Paul returns with Will and his family, and they all start living together. For a while, it is good. Throughout the film, we are shown that Travis constantly has nightmares and sees himself walking out the red front door at night in his dreams.

One day, the family dog sees something in the woods and runs away barking. Travis runs behind it, and Paul and Will run after Travis. Paul is furious that Travis ran into the woods without any protection and instructs them to return home and wait a couple of days for their dog to find its way back for.

The Dog Returns

Eventually, on one of the nights, Travis wakes up from his nightmare and takes a walk to one of the rooms to find Andrew sleeping on the floor all by himself. Travis picks Andrew up and returns him to the bed with his parents. But right after, Travis goes down the corridor to notice that the main door is unlocked and opened. Outside, he finds his dog badly infected and dying.

Paul and Will go out, put the dog down, possibly burn it like Granddad, and return. Paul suspects Andrew is sick, so he says the two families should isolate themselves in different rooms, which they do. Travis overhears Will and Kim through the walls, who are planning to leave the house with a portion of the resources, and informs Paul about this. Paul finds this a threat because if Will leaves, he could return later with a larger tribe to loot Paul’s home.

In an alternation, Will pulls a gun on Paul and asks for his family to be allowed to leave. They scurry, and Sarah shoots Will. As Kim and Andrew make a run for it, Paul shoots and kills Andrew. He also kills the now hysterical mother. Off-screen, they kill Will as well. The film shows us that in a world without civil laws, this is what humans devolve into. Many normal people would let paranoia take over and make us do anything to protect ourselves and our families.

As the film concludes, we see Trevor wake up infected. Paul and Sarah sit, having lost all hope, waiting for death. This could be real or another one of Trevor’s dreams, but we all know, balls to bones, that they are all done for. The pressing question that remains is how they got infected which we’ll jump into now.

It Comes At Night: Who Was Sick?

It is most probable that the dog picked up the infection from the grandad, and the gestation period in dogs differed from that of humans. Since Trevor slept with the dog, he slowly got infected over time. Trevor’s nightmares led him to sleepwalk, which appears to be a symptom of the disease. After this, Trevor slowly passed on the infection to the others, and Andrew was the first to show symptoms, and all hell broke loose.

Let’s go through the various possibilities of who actually got sick first. We know that the granddad was the first to go. It’s clear that there is not a lot of information on the exact symptoms, and based on what one is infected. The large rashes on the hands could be a late response to the disease; by then, the person has the disease and is passing it on to others already.

Theory 1 – Trevor picked up the infection from the grandfather

Because Trevor was young, it is possible that he didn’t develop physical symptoms of the disease for a very long time. But we do know that Trevor has been having bizarre nightmares where he sees himself going out of the house through that red door. What if Trevor was sleepwalking because of the disease and going out at night unknowingly. Think about it: if Trevor had always had a sleepwalking problem, his parents would have known and made sure that they had secured him at night. They didn’t do that because they didn’t know Trevor was sleepwalking.

That night, Trevor found Andrew on the floor. It is possible that Trevor sleepwalked, opened the door, went out, found the dog, brought him back, got a major bout of infection, and got back inside but didn’t lock the door. After that, he woke up, picked up Andrew, put him in his bed, and noticed the open door. The question we are left with here is, how come the others didn’t get sick all that while? The answer to that is, Trevor got badly sick only after touching the dog, until then it was a low grade infection causing him to sleepwalk.

Theory 2 – The dog was sick, but no one knew

We’ve already discussed this above. This again leads to Trevor sleepwalking outside and finding the dog. But the whole family should have gotten sick if the dog was sick all this time. Perhaps the rate at which the infection passed from a dog to a human was far too low, and Trevor got lightly infected because of his proximity to the dog as they slept in the same room. His major bout of infection happened when he possibly sleepwalked and found his dog. The rest of it aligns with Theory 1.

Theory 3 – Andrew was the first to get sick

Andrew is a little kid and never leaves the company of his parents. So, the chances of him contracting the disease first are only possible if he somehow went out that night. The thing is that Andrew is a small kid and couldn’t have reached the locks on the door. If Andrew had been sick before he came to the house, the others would have all gotten ill as well, so that’s not a possibility either. So Andrew getting sick before Trevor is ruled out.

Theory 4 – One of the 4 adults got sick

One of the four adults possibly fell sick because they got infected when they strayed away, but this is not possible as it would have led to everyone falling ill, which didn’t happen in the film.

It Comes At Night: Who opened the door?

Trevor sleepwalked and opened the door, went out, and found his dog, but he doesn’t remember opening it. The sleepwalking is possibly a side effect of the sickness inside him. Here again, let’s look at all the possibilities for who opened the door.

Theory 1—Andrew opened the door: Andrew is a short kid, and there was no way he could reach the locks on the top of the door.

Theory 2—Trevor opened the door: This is discussed above and is the most probable event.

Theory 3—One of the adults opened the door: There was no reason for any of the adults to take that chance, given that both families had children and were worried for them.

It Comes At Night: Who killed the dog?

The dog may have been mauled by another infected animal or human. We don’t know what did it, but we do know that by the time the dog was at the doorstep, it was highly infected and had to be put down by Will and Paul. It appears the dog was already sick before running away and was seeing things, which is why it disappeared into the woods, barking at something that wasn’t there.

It Comes At Night: How did Andrew get sick?

Andrew was always with his parents at all times and didn’t wander anywhere on his own. Will and Kim made sure of that. So, the only way Andrew could have gotten sick was if Trevor or the dog had passed it on to him. Also, Andrew was possibly not sick because we are not shown any symptoms as such; it’s the paranoia around the plague that gets everyone riled up. Also, even if Andrew was ill, it may have simply been a stomach infection or a fever as he was only a child, and everyone overreacted.

It Comes At Night: Ending Explained

The ending of the movie It Comes At Night reveals that Travis was sick and could have picked up the infection from his dog, which it picked up from the grandfather. The deaths of Will, Kim, and Andrew were in vain and resulted from paranoia and fear of the plague. As the film ends, it dawns on Paul and Sarah that Travis is the source of the illness, and now they are all doomed.

What was the point of the keys?

There is a scene where Paul explains he has the keys to the house around his neck and is the only one with them. How did anyone else open the door in that case? If the insides of the house were only bolts, what was the point of the keys – to lock the house from the outside? I don’t think they ever left the house to lock up from outside. In summary, what was the purpose of the keys he meticulously displayed? If anyone has a theory, please drop a note in the comments section.

What was the point of the movie?

No matter how you look at the film to understand who was the one to get infected first and who opened the door, it leads to dead ends. The director is clear about one thing though: everyone got infected in the end and died. Ultimately, this is the story of two families who have very limited knowledge about the pandemic, struggle to survive, and don’t make it against all odds. In real life, we noticed during Covid that we never got clear-cut answers; we only lost friends and family.

What were your thoughts on the plot and ending of the movie It Come At Night? What did you think the It in the movie title was? Do comment below.