Directed and written by David Robert Mitchell. Produced by Rebecca Green, Laura D. Smith, David Robert Mitchell, David Kaplan, and Erik Rommesmo. Release date: March 13, 2015 (March 27, 2015 expansion).
When a good horror movie – and make no mistake, It Follows is a good horror movie – shows up, it is something to celebrate. The genre is often so bad, particularly when it comes to wide theatrical releases, that people are under the impression that there are no good horror movies anymore. That’s inaccurate, but it’s understandable why people believe it to be so. Look no further than 2015’s earlier wide-release horror movies: The Woman in Black 2, The Lazarus Effect – and The Boy Next Door if you want to stretch your definition of “horror movie.” None of these were any good. But, with It Follows, we finally have a good one.
It’s impressive what one can do with so little. It Follows has such a simple premise and monster that it almost sounds comical. There is a thing, and it follows you. It walks slowly toward you wherever you are, never stopping until it reaches you, at which point you get ripped apart. It can take the form of anybody. Sometimes you may know the form it takes, while other times it will take the form of a complete stranger. Nobody knows why it is, what it really is, or why it does what it does. It never moves faster than a slow walk. The only people who can see it are those who have been its target. And yet, in spite of all this – or perhaps because of it – the creature in It Follows is genuinely frightening. Ambiguity is beneficial to the monsters in horror movies; things becomes less scary the more you see and the more you know of them.
The only way to pass on the creature’s target is to have sex with someone, something Jay (Maika Monroe) finds out after her boyfriend has sex with her only to find out he was just doing so in order to pass on the “curse.” So, yes, what we’re dealing with here is essentially an STD, except you can become exempt from its effects if you pass it along to someone else. However, if the person to whom you passed it is killed, it will come back to you. How creepy is that? Very creepy, if you ask me. The nameless creature (“It”?) in It Follows makes for a great villain.
It will remain in your mind for days to come – and maybe make you feel the need to walk slightly faster if you feel someone walking slowly behind you on the street.
Most of the film involves its main characters, Jay and her friends, trying to hide out or run away from the thing that is chasing her. She begins to ponder whether or not she should even pass it along – after all, that’s kind of immoral, isn’t it? Besides, it may not even be a permanent solution. Is the temporary reprieve worth it? The cast of teens struggle with these questions, all while slowly being approached by this thing.
If you’re already thinking Halloween, you’re already in the right mindset. It Follows feels very much like a throwback to ’80s slashers. Some of its imagery is similar, the score – and what a beautiful score (from Rich Vreeland) it is – sounds very much like the one from Halloween, and at times the film even feels like it’s taking place in the ’80s. Remember old-school tube televisions and wall phones? It Follows does.
It does a lot with very little, too, and does so in a way that’s genuinely scary. The creature itself almost prohibits the use of jump startles, already eliminating one of my personal biggest pet peeves with current horror movies. Something can’t do a jump startle that often if it’s as slow-moving as the villain in this movie, after all. It has a few, but it earns them and director David Robert Mitchell doesn’t use them as a crutch like many horror directors do.
It Follows isn’t perfect. Some of the acting is spotty, the teens still, at times, act like idiots, and if you’re not a fan of slow-moving movies, the glacial pace at which it proceeds will not entice you. But the way it builds both atmosphere and tension, with the addition of a creepy villain, allows it to be relatively scary. There’s enough subtext present to make you feel as if it has something on its mind – even if it very well may not. And, finally, it comes and goes in just over 90 minutes. It doesn’t hold you hostage for too long, but it will remain in your mind for days to come – and maybe make you feel the need to walk slightly faster if you feel someone walking slowly behind you on the street.
Bottom Line: It Follows is one of the scariest horror movies you’ll be able to see in theaters this year.
Recommendation: Fans of horror movies that don’t rely on jump startles will want to see It Follows as soon as possible.[rating=3.5]