Joel Edgerton and Kelvin Harrison Jr. in It Comes at Night.

Writer-director Trey Edward Shults, who made a splendid debut with last year’s family drama Krisha, goes for a family drama of the post-apocalyptic kind with It Comes at Night, a thriller falsely billed as a horror movie.

Paul (Joel Edgerton), a man living in a remote house with his wife and kid (Carmen Ejogo and Kelvin Harrison Jr.), will go to every extreme to protect his family from a plague that has claimed the majority of Earth’s population. If somebody gets sick in his home, the ill person receives a bullet to the head and a postmortem visit to the fire pit. With that possibility always at hand, he allows a new couple (Christopher Abbott and Riley Keough, grandchild of Elvis) and their child to move in after they earn his trust with some livestock. Things go well for a short amount of time … before paranoia kicks in, and the fire pit looms.

Edgerton is magnificent here, as is the rest of the cast. The marketing makes this look like some sort of zombie movie, but it’s more drama than horror—although the film is quite dark. Shults is a true talent who doesn’t play by the rules, and he’s only going to get better.

If you are looking for zombie fun, watch The Walking Dead. This one is about families behaving badly. It aims to mess with your head—and succeeds.

It Comes at Night is playing at theaters across the valley.