It Follows (2014) [Review]

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Poster by Richey Beckett

After a young girl gets involved in a sexual confrontation, she is followed by an unknown force.

This is a film that alongside The Babadook has been touted as one of the best horrors in recent years. It’s strange when such an encompassing phrase gets banded about like that, usually the person making the claims hasn’t seen every horror that has been out in recent years, so a judgement that wide and vague should probably be withheld. It puts pressure on the film to live up to viewers extremely high expectations, whereas a film like this, you’re better off going in with no expectations. It will surprise you.

It Follows is a different type of horror film. One that you would not expect to smash the indie box office on it’s opening weekend, and have such a good theatre run that the VOD release date has been pushed back. This film does not follow conventional ‘jump’ scares, nor does it rely on relentless gore, there is hardly any context to it and the people in the film aren’t idiots. Instead, this simple idea that something and/or someone is out to get you and only you, born out of a reoccuring nightmare from director David Robert Mitchell, is as horrifying as it sounds. A ‘being’ that will kill you if it gets near to you, ‘slow but not stupid’, is sexually transmitted and can take many human forms. The resulting effect is one of intense paranoia, uncertainty and ambiguity. We don’t know the what this is, and that’s why it’s horrible to watch.

This dreamlike state from Mitchell translates onto the screen extremely well. The characters wear inconsistently fashionable items of clothing, technology is mixed and cars are varied. There is no indication of the era or place it is shot in, much like a nightmare, the finer details have been removed, and the ambiguity continued. It makes little sense – but it doesn’t have to. The unease and paranoia of this unfamiliar environment is heightened by the incredible cinematography; long wide shots, mixed with a couple of 360/540/720 degree turns, your eyes immediately scan the periphery looking for anything out of the ordinary. It is beautiful to watch, but the tension is deeply unsettling. The synth-ridden score by Disasterpeace also adds volumes to the suspense. The atmosphere is intense, there is danger brooding, each piece of music perfectly crafted to suit the mood of the film. Listening back to any of the tracks gives me the chills knowing what it accompanied on screen.

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Maika Monroe (The Guest) is brilliant as ‘Jay’, the primary victim in all of this. Innocently going about her teenage existence when thrust into infinite peril against her will. She has a certain likability, as do the rest of her group. They help each other, there’s no cattiness, there’s no idiocy (aside from one frankly ridiculous albeit highly enjoyable scene), and they band together to try and work out a way to make ‘it’ leave them alone. Monroe puts in a thoughtful and powerful performance, and with this film and The Guest under her belt, I am excited to see what she takes on next. The remaining cast members were good, but this was always going to be Monroe’s film, and she stole the show.

It Follows, The Babadook and The Guest mark a new-wave of intelligent, uneasy and impressive films. Audiences now are craving this type of scare, one that invades your privacy, one that makes you feel weird and tweaky. But this scare has always been about, it is just that it has been overshadowed by the nonsense promoted around Halloween time in the cinemas. The films with extreme gore, wet haired ghoulish looking girls and the idiots that run into the face of danger will always be here, and they will always have their audiences. It’s important not to get carried away when a film that’s slightly different comes along, and suddenly it’s the best horror film ever made.

It Follows is a good film. It’s unique take on sex within horror, using it as a catalyst for impending unstoppable dread was impressive to say the least. However, I laughed at parts of it, I got chills at others and I felt uncomfortable – still, it lingered over me long after I got home, but I wasn’t scared. Different people react differently to horrors, being scared is all subjective, but don’t let that put you off. All the more reason to see it. Go in with an open mind, ignore the hype, and on your walk home make sure to keep checking over your shoulder. Just in case…

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8 responses to “It Follows (2014) [Review]

  1. I can’t remember a movie that got under my skin as much as this one for quite a while. Such a dreamy/nightmarish tone and brilliant camerawork. Strong review buddy.

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    • Thanks. Means a lot. Get the soundtrack downloaded too and extend the creepiness.

      Also, check out Spring and Backcountry. Both released yesterday, both getting rave reviews.

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  2. Great write-up, man. I’ll try to leave expectations behind as The Babadook and The Guest actually disappointed me for this very reason. They were enjoyable enough and had moments of greatness but overall I felt a bit ripped-off after all the hype they received. I do like the sound of It Follows, though.

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    • I know that vibe man. I’ve felt shortchanged on so many films, I find it impossible to check my expectations at the door. I often find myself waiting until the hype has died down to watch a film, because no matter how much I don’t want to be influenced by outside noise, I am.

      It Follows is a good, if not great film. But the hype surrounding it is pretty mental. I wonder if the same level of hype will surround “Spring” or “Backcountry”…

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  3. Great stuff. Nice to see we latched on to the way Mitchell creates a dreamlike setting with his odd use of vintage and contemporary technology. We could very well be in a dream in this film. And, let the record stand this is better than both Spring and the Babadook, though I liked both of those.

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