It Follows is an original concept compiled into what can only be explained as an artistic horror film. It was released in 2014 but has gained some traction over the past few years and landed on many “must watch horror” lists. The concept is that “it” will follow whoever the carrier is, which is passed on through sex to a new carrier. Not the kind of STD that your doctor is going to write you a script of penicillin to clear up. So, buckle up and let’s do a spoiler free review of It Follows.
The Good: The first thing you’re probably going to ask yourself while watching this movie is what time frame this is set in. The style of clothing could match the modern-day hipster or young adults that are fashion savvy. The settings and most of the technology or lack thereof (other than some weird shell e-reader thing) could also lean towards being late 70s/early 80s. It makes for an interesting approach to the overall atmosphere and according to the director David Robert Mitchell, it’s intentionally filmed this way to create a dream effect (AV Club). It’s a very cool spin to what is already an interesting concept for a movie.
The build of suspension in this movie is phenomenal. The score is constantly building tension, as Jay (Maika Monroe) is eluding her stalking demon. The beauty of it is that half the time you never actually see the monster and when you do, it often looks very ordinary. Yet the director still manages to build a sense of dread without going in the direction of making it hokey. Like horror of old, the director created a slow, steady and unrelenting monster which will constantly keep you on edge. They could have very easily gone with an over-the-top CGI monster but I’m certainly glad they went with a far subtler approach. This movie will make you think twice about anyone slowly walking in your direction.
This film is also paced very well. It Follows wastes no time in introducing you for what’s to come and manages to stay consistent for the entire film. The director manages to make an almost two hour film feel like an hour. Jay and her friends are quick to start coming up with some ideas on how to evade the creature and buy some time to really assess the situation. I love when characters in horror movies play it smart by developing and executing plans that don’t suck. Whether they’re all successful or not is a totally different story.
The Bad: Now that I went on my whole rant about great plans and execution, I have to add a caveat and say that they also had some really dumb ideas and lack of trying other approaches. I understand horror and most stories in general, at their core rely on characters failing to execute plans. I would for once like to see a horror movie try all rational approaches that a real person would try just so that the audience would feel like there truly are no other options. Throughout the film I was coming up with all sorts of different ways that I’d deal with this and I was a bit disappointed that the scope of their creativity was so limited.
Some of the characters seemed either totally unnecessary or became annoying in their persistence that the monster wasn’t real. Personally, if I saw a door get blown in half, I’d probably start believing the girl that’s freaking out about an invisible creature stalking her. Yara (played by Olivia Luccardi) is by far the most unnecessary character as she basically has no lines other than “What’s wrong?!” whenever the creature approaches and Jay starts freaking out. Dude, you know what’s wrong, stop asking.
The Judgment: The flaws of this movie are minor and easily overlooked because of the great concept and storytelling of the film. I believe that this was a solid mark on the new age of horror films and showed that it’s not dead yet. David Robert Mitchell managed to bring back the spirit of old horror and give it a fresh spin. I’ll definitely be looking out for a sequel to this movie that may hopefully visit the origins of the demon or conclude the story in a more permanent way. I strongly recommend this film if you’re looking for a solid, original horror.