It Follows, 2015, USA
Director: David Robert Mitchell
Stars: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist & Daniel Zovatto
"It could look like someone you know or it could be a stranger in a crowd. Whatever helps it get close to you"
'It Follows' is to 2015, what 'The Babadook' was to 2014, 'You're Next' was to 2013, and 'The Cabin in the Woods' to 2012. A horror film that arrives with tons of hype and the aura of being ground breaking, game changing and terrifying. While the weight of this hype can ultimately leave you feeling indifferent to the film upon seeing it, others fulfill their full potential and live up to that hype. Fortunately, 'It Follows' lived up to the lofty expectations I had set for it and has easily become one of my favorite horror films in recent memory.
'It Follows' is a wonderfully executed throwback to the horror films of a different era. Not to make this a commentary about about weather or not the genre's techniques have become less effective over time, but in my opinion, I'm more favorable to the atmospheric horror films of the 70's and 80's, where tension is built both simply and effectively, and it's what we don't see that scares us. David Robert Mitchell seems to share these sentiments and takes inspiration and pays homage to them. It's the kind of film John Carpenter could have made between 'Halloween' and 'The Thing'. In many ways, the film reminds me of Adam Wingard's 'The Guest' (and not just because it also stars Maika Monroe) in the sense that manages to be a quality film in addition to being a satisfying throwback, and not just relying on past tropes in order to get a passing grade from audiences.
What the titular "It" is can be up to interpretation. My take is probably the most obvious standpoint and that it is an allegory for a sexually transmitted disease, and the embodiment of sexual anxieties, helplessness and the inevitability of death. Mitchell manages to take this heavy themes and mold them into both, a fun horror film, and a pretty devastating and scathing social commentary on promiscuous teenage behavior.
Stylistically, the film is exceptionally well done. The camera work echoes the brooding stroll of the film's haunting antagonists, creeping into focus slowly, sneaking up on the unaware characters. The dreary unnamed American town perfectly suits the events taking place, it's kind of like a modern day Haddonfield. The visual effects were incredibly polished for a film with only a $2 million budget, some of them looked absolutley spectactacular, especially the pool visual towards the end. I also loved the the techno score and thought it fit perfectly the tone and vibe of the film.
Another aspect I really admired about the film was the vagueness with which the events unfolded. I loved not being clued in from the beginning and being able to watch the strange happenings unfold while trying to piece together what's going on.
The characters in the film were exactly what I want characters to be in a teen orientated horror film, humans. So often do young adult characters in these type of films come off as inhuman, unrelatable, unlikable twats who act like no other human being ever would. In this film, the characters generally feel organic and act as if these were real people reacting to the situation, the friends do all they can to help Jay, and Jay battles with the ethical decision of passing on the curse to another. Maika Monroe gives a star making performance that echoes the scream queens of the past.
I had insanely high expectations and months of anticipation heading into 'It Follows' and it was able to completely satisfy me on every level. A tense and bone chilling take on STD's and promiscuity, a wonderful throwback to horror films of the past, and just an all around entertaining a scary ride that I can't wait to revisit.