*** Wait! Before starting this, leonth3duke has a wonderful review of It Follows. Read that and then double back here, if you want. . 🙂 ***
I had a jump scare happen to me two hours after seeing David Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows”. As I was relaying the story to my cousin, I heard a loud crash behind me. This caused me to whirl around and jump backwards. Of course, it was just a pair of cats chasing each other around the house, but I guess the movie kind of escalated things for me, mentally. My cousin laughed and said “Okay, this sounds like it’s worth seeing.” It feels good to carry a film around you like that.
It Follows is a subtle horror movie that reminds me of so many other ones – Halloween, Night of the Creeps, Ginger Snaps, The Thing, Under the Skin, The Cabin the Woods, The Babadook, Attack the Block, The Hidden and even Count Yorga: Vampire. It also brought to mind the Slenderman video game, where the player is constantly pursued by a figure that gets closer to them as they look over their shoulder. Perhaps this is where the source of the scares come from, but I’d easily come back to It Follows just for the atmosphere and the music. This movie feels like an 70’s or 80’s film – the kind of movie you’d find tucked away on a low shelf in the back of a mom and pop video store.
It Follows deals with a girl named Jay (Maika Monroe), who finds herself in some serious danger. After sleeping with a guy, Jay is told she’s the recipient of some kind of curse (I can’t think of a better way to describe it, really). The creature can take any form to get close enough to kill her, but is limited in that it can only walk. The only way she can keep it from coming after her is to “pass it on” sexually to someone else. The concept sounds really simple, but it’s actually complex as story plays out. The bulk of the film is made up of Jay and her friends / family wondering what’s after her and where it’s at. The movie makes great use of the camera. Very slow zooms and pans, coupled with long stationary shots force the audience to constantly scan the horizon for threats. There’s even a slow 360 scene that helps paint a picture yet suggest that everyone involved is still kept on their toes regarding the Follower. I had.a number of moments where I either looked away or whispered “Oh crap, behind you!”. The film’s score, created by Rich Vreeland (a.k.a. Disasterpeace) fits so well with the movie, I wondered if he and Mitchell didn’t just pull an E.T. and write the music before the film. It’s a classic, creepy series of selections that feels similar to the Drive soundtrack, but is as strange as Mica Levi’s work on Under the Skin. The score, as of this writing, is available on iTunes. There’s one scene in particular that only uses two high pitched notes back and forth really well. The acting is pretty simple. Monroe is the stand out, playing the lead, but the supporting cast was neither here or there. I can’t say that I’d remember them, but I also can’t say they were bad at all. Is It Follows the scariest film of the year? I couldn’t really tell you. Half of the time, when announcements like that are made, everyone runs to the theatre and then they proclaim the movie did nothing for them. People are impressed by different things. If you are a fan of blood and gore, It Follows might not be for you. There’s very little. Are you looking to be unnerved? Perhaps the film will work better for audiences searching for that. Paranoia is the key to everything here, and It Follows serves it up in heaps on oversized platters. The idea of a slow moving entity that walks while you run has terrified me since Pepe Le Pew and Halloween. For me, it was effective. If audience reaction is any indication, the movie had moments, but not many. When the film ended, there were quiet murmurs yet no real applause (unlike The Raid 2, which had people howling & clapping). The most I can tell you is that I enjoyed it, and will probably revisit it on Friday to see how it holds up with a larger audience. I’ll definitely do the VOD when it appears.