Trey Edward Shults’ superbly confident third feature, after Krisha and It Comes At Night, is a true gem, chronicling the emotional journey of a black suburban family. It’s essentially two movies; two unconventional narratives. The first half, claustrophobic and kinetic, centers on Tyler (Kevin Harrison Jr.), a popular high school senior on the wrestling team who, spurred by the demands of his domineering father (Sterling K. Brown) makes some wrong choices, leading to a horrible tragedy. 

The second half, in a boldly original, radical change in course, focuses on Tyler’s younger sister Emily (Taylor Russell). The claustrophobia gives way to openness, the despair to hope, and the journey toward healing begins. It sounds hokey. It isn’t.

This constantly innovative film offers superb acting throughout by a mix of veterans and breakouts.  It’s stylish yet substantive, emotionally draining and powerfully immersive. All this is propelled by a terrific score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, and by Drew Daniels’ Trent  camera work, which would seem like showy film-school trickery if it weren’t so effective.

It’s one of those movies that will make you a better person.

(135 min)