David Robert Mitchell‘s It Follows is a unique horror film unlike anything before it. It Follows isn’t traditional by any means, scaring its audiences not with the usual blood, gore and jump scares, but instead with its lingering sensation that you can’t quite shake after watching it. It Follows is tense, different and exactly the kind of horror flick to go against the grain in a cinematic landscape full of ghost stories and haunting films.
Jay (Maika Monroe) is your typical girl. One night she goes on a date with a boy that she’s slowly starting to like and one thing leads to another and they end up having sex. It’s an innocent act that she didn’t exactly put a whole bunch of thought into, but shortly after the man reveals to her that he has passed on a curse. The curse is simple and results in “something” following around Jay for the rest of her life, until she has sex with someone else and passes on said curse. If she lets this “thing” get close to her and touch her; it will kill her and then move back onto the last person that had the curse.
She doesn’t know how it started or why it’s happening, but she does know that something is following her and will not stop until she is dead. This thing can take the form of anyone, from a random stranger to a known friend or family member and only the cursed can see it, slowly walking towards them.
I know I know, It Follows sounds rather strange and odd for a horror flick, but I’m here to tell you that it works and it works magnificently. David Robert Mitchell‘s film is spooky and nail-biting without ever really shedding much blood or acts of violence.
It Follows gets by on its tense mood and unique atmosphere, which starts with its slow and steady camera pacing, then moves onto its retro-styled score, finally settling with its slow burn approach to its characters, their stories and the film’s overall message. Everything about It Follows is suspenseful and uncomfortable and that’s precisely why it works so well as a horror flick.
Caution must be given to that word though, because this is far from your conventional horror film, especially in a world where exorcism and possession films are over-saturating the market with their jump scares and cheap thrills. Sure, those flicks aren’t always that bad, but they’re very formulaic and have slowly started to become the genre norm, especially if shot with a found footage approach.
It Follows counteracts that in a big way. The camera is almost always distant and steady, allowing for the entire scene’s atmosphere to be consumed and digested slowly and with enough thought for the viewer to truly take it all in. Then, the music and locations help make the film feel different in a very natural way, which helps make way for the core characters, which aren’t exactly the most talkative, yet still feel like variations of your typical horror crew.
Leading lady Maika Monroe gives Jay a refreshing feel. She’s not exactly an ass kicker or a tough bad ass, but instead just a lovely girl lost in a nightmare that she just can’t seem to wake up from. She was hesitant about sleeping with the boy in the first place and then instantly regrets it after the fact, which is a sad realization that she comes across. Jay’s quiet-going nature helps the audience get behind her and relate to her unfortunate situation in a way that feels organic.
The way director David Robert Mitchell treats and reveals “it” is the scariest aspect of the entire film. It shows up out of nowhere and can be almost always seen lingering in the background. Sometimes, it may appear as an unsure figure, while sometimes it’s obvious and directly in the middle of the frame. And that works wonderfully well for the film, giving a constant sense of paranoia, while also making you sit back in your seat and slowly start to map out the exits and the people that seem to be inching closer and closer towards you for no reason.
It’s a remarkably scary feeling that the film gives off with strong vibes and clever structuring. That’s what makes It Follows a unique film that really works, but not exactly your traditional horror film that will instantly scare you in the blood/gore/violence sense. It Follows is terrifying, but that mileage may very drastically depending on what type of movie-goer you are and depending on what kind of film you’re looking for.
Those looking for something a little different and a little more psychological will enjoy It Follows for how uneasy it makes them feel and for how it always waits to scare you subtly around every single corner. Those looking for big jumps and obvious scares won’t find much to like in this intense little indie flick.
It Follows is a great film to go into blindly, so I’d suggest not reading too much about it and just checking it out as soon as you can and then come back here and let’s discuss the film’s underlying (and slightly disturbing message) in the comments down below.
It Follows – 8/10