A genuinely terrifying experience that you take home with you, It Follows is a film that will surely stand the test of time and be remembered as one of the most accomplished horror films of it’s generation.
Jay, played by Maika Monroe, is a beautiful young woman who is being stalked by a supernatural creature. After she has sex with a guy that she has been dating, he ties her up and waits until It comes so he can show her what he has passed on to her. It can look like anyone, It can’t be stopped and no one can help.
David Robert Mitchell directs this subversive and unconventional horror film. The opening sequence is perfect in establishing the mood for the film. A girl runs out of her house and is clearly terrified. Something off screen appears to be following her but no one else can see it. She then runs back inside, grabs keys, gets in the family car and drives away, all the while completely terrified. She goes to a beach to wait out the night and calls her parents to tell them that she loves them. It’s not hard to imagine what we see in the next scene.
Now, although this first scene was beautifully constructed and really set the atmosphere for the film, I wasn’t completely sold with the next 20 minutes. Most of it had to do with a very heavy ’80s synth score by Rich Vreeland. It is undoubtedly intentional but it is also very jarring. It is reminiscent of the original Halloween if I were to think of a comparison on the spot but I felt like it detracted from the story as opposed to adding to it in those first 20 minutes. That being said, it was necessary as the score is predominant through the rest of the film. I personally had to get used to it before I could accept it as part of the world in which the movie takes place. This is my only critique of an otherwise beautifully crafted film.
I love how Mitchell purposely chose to make the year in which the film takes place ambiguous. We have clothing styles and electronics that are reminiscent of the ’60s through to the ’80s, (predominantly ’80s though) and then we see one of the characters using a clam shell e-book. It is a story that transcends time and reminds me of similar choices made in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In that film, director Milos Foreman specially wanted to omit anything that would indicate which year the film took place so that it would continue to be relevant as time progressed. The same is true with It Follows but instead of omitting, Mitchell added things from multiple time periods to indicate that the story is relevant throughout them all.
The idea of a sexually transmitted curse is horrifying and brilliant. It’s such an interesting metaphor for sexually transmitted diseases that there are no cures for, like AIDS. You don’t necessarily know who has it, once you have it your whole life changes and only the people that have it or have had it truly know what you’re going through. Although people with AIDS or HIV, to be more specific, can now live long, relatively healthy lives, there was a time when this prognosis was a death sentence. It’s an interesting concept and Mitchell depicts this sense of fear and hopelessness perfectly.
This movie was cast immaculately. Monroe did an excellent job of embodying the feelings of fear and paranoia that come with being relentlessly stalked. My other favourite actor in the film would have to be Keir Gilchrist, who plays Paul, Jay’s friend since childhood who is head-over-heels in love with her but not quite in the same league. We all know someone (or have been that someone) that is or has been madly in love with someone that it just wasn’t going to work out with, the poor guys that are irrevocably friend zoned. There’s something so endearing and heart breaking about watching someone in this predicament and Gilchrist played it perfectly. In an unexpected way, this movie is sort of a love story and the dreamy, timeless quality of it only adds to this concept.
Again, I have to applaud Mitchell for his flawless storytelling style. The amount of tension and suspense that is built throughout this film is tremendous. The only other film that I’ve seen recently that built this kind of tension was The Babadook. There were moments that I actually had to remind myself to breath and my heart felt like it was going to beat right out of my chest. I am prone to exaggeration but it really isn’t needed here. There are moments throughout this film that are truly terrifying. And the tension of the film is carried all the way through. There is no telling when It will catch up with them and as such, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.
All that being said, I want to give you a fair warning. This movie is not for everyone. I went with my husband and my best friend and they both HATED it. I mean really hated it. They were also laughing through parts that were not funny because of how ridiculous they thought it was. My redhead temper started to flare and I scolded them and cast some seriously dangerous looks in their direction for being so distracting through such an amazing movie (in my opinion). But I do see where they are coming from. Firstly, I have to credit their distaste towards the the film to the score. Like I mentioned earlier, it is very jarring and from the first few moments after the opening scene, they were lost.
Secondly, this movie doesn’t have the traditional dialogue found in a lot of movies. There are a lot of scenes where the characters are just sitting around and nothing happens, or there is a crescendo in the music and then nothing happens. I loved this because firstly, it was a more realistic depiction of friends being comfortable with each other and not necessarily needing to talk. Secondly, the tense musical moments where nothing ended up happening created a feeling throughout the film that It could catch up with them at any time. They were never safe. There’s a constant feeling of being on edge. Overall, it is an “artsy” (I feel bad labelling it) film. If you aren’t into that sort of thing, this might not be the one for you. I thought it was brilliant and I have very few complaints but I also recognize that it’s not something that everyone will enjoy.
All in all, this is a fantastic film. I would highly recommend it as long as you know what you’re going into. I rarely like knowing anything about a movie before I see it but this one does need a little explanation before jumping into it. Not so much in reference to the storyline, but more so in reference to the style. I think that the script is brilliant and the actors were impeccable. It is definitely one of the best, if not the best movie of the year so far for me.
If you’ve seen it please let me know your thoughts!