“It could look like someone you know or it could be a stranger in a crowd. Whatever helps it get close to you.”
It isn’t all fun and games after going to Pound Town. Nineteen year-old Jay (Maika Monore),is having a good time going steady with Hugh (Jake Weary), a 21-year old she likes a lot. They click, and of course, intercourse happens. Immediately after, Jay is incapacitated, and tied down to a wheelchair. Hugh isn’t boyfriend material anymore, to say the least.
What he does say to Jay, however, is that she is now afflicted with a curse. This curse is malevolent, and It Follows her relentlessly in many shapes and forms, some familiar to Jay. Worse yet, it is only seen by Jay, making her sister Keli (Lili Sepe), and friend/crush Paul (Keir Gilchrist), wonder if she’s lost her sanity. The only way to get rid of it is to pass it on. But to whom? And even if she does, is it a guarantee that “IT” will stop stalking her?
What makes scares? The answer is a combination of things, like anything really. But, it is hard not to have solid scares with an absent atmosphere. It is in atmosphere where It Follows makes its name. A homage of sorts it is to noteworthy 80’s films in the genre like Halloween, the first Friday the 13th, etc., in the way it goes about its business, but it also manages to blaze its own path with its original story and willingness to break away from the norm.
Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, It Follows is methodically relentless. It, just like the mysterious villainous entity featured, just keeps coming, but at its own pace. If the movie were a football drive, it would go 16 plays for 80 yards and end with a touchdown with short, but efficient, offensive plays. Would you rather see what is coming at you, or have it appear out of nowhere? Crazy as it sounds, in this case, I’d rather not see what was coming after me.
Who knew that making love in horror movies could be fresh as it pertains to the plot, and not an excuse to show some breasts and get people killed? Mitchell manages to pull this off, making an intriguing screenplay rooted around the idea of sex and its dangers. It is a very open-to-interpretation movie, but with that said, there may be a few too many things left up to the viewer’s mind. Now, yours truly isn’t saying that line upon line of exposition dialogue is needed. But, I do think that if there was more of an effort to actually explain some of why “it” does what it does, if/how past people are dealing with it, etc., the end events (where the $2 million budget starts to show) probably wouldn’t have come off as so WTF?, simply because I don’t feel that the movie is all that surreal. But again, open to interpretation.
Getting back to the more positive aspects, though, the movie absolutely nails its atmosphere. The suburbs of Detroit are sleepy, quiet, and a sandbox for chills in every corner, and it helps that you can’t really nail down what time period this is taking place in, as there’s evidence for present day and the past. There is no safe zone that exists, and Mitchell uses some nice camera shots to add to the tension. Again, it hardly ever feels cheap, as most of the scares aren’t false. But, they are amplified by a synthesized score that is reminiscent of some of the great horror themes, like The Exorcist, Phantasm, and of course, Halloween.
Horror movie characters, especially teens/young adults, can often be so grating. That’s why it is refreshing to see those in It Follows just average young adults. However, the story could have been the same with a cast of three instead of five; two of the characters don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Aside from Jay, Paul, and a character who is introduced about midway through, the other roles might as well been filled with dead air. The cast as a whole is solid. No one truly stands out, but the script doesn’t seem to ask them for amazing performances, just functional ones.
Unique yet still a throwback, and perhaps a little too vague for its own good, It Follows is nonetheless an interesting and pretty creepy horror film that horror fans and film analysts may not unabashedly love, but will find some very compelling aspects in. High schools, you’ve found your next piece of abstinence educational content.
Photo credits go to filmcomment.com, io9.com, recentmovieposters.com, and aceshowbiz.com.
Follow the Movie Man @MovieManJackson