GENRE: Horror, Mystery
DIRECTOR: David Robert Mitchell
WRITER: David Robert Mitchell
STARS: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary
PLOT: A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after getting involved in a sexual encounter.
At release both the Empire and Guardian film podcasts had warned to not watch It Follows alone or in the dark. They praised the film’s minimalism, lack of shock tactics and it’s lasting impression. So I went into It Follows, the first horror film I have watched since The Ring back in 2002, with my eyes wide open, knowing what to expect and in truth predicting disappointment.
The premise is just as simple as the rest of the film, a supernatural entity (disguised as people that you know) follows a single prey. If it catches them, it kills them. The only way to stop the creature is to pass it on to someone else by having sex them. However, if they are killed then the curse is passed back down the line, so never ends.
On first read you would almost certainly think it was a typical teensploitation movie (a la Final Destination) with lots of naked flesh and gratuitous gore and violence, but it isn’t.
So whilst watching the film, in the dark and on my own, I was always conscious that it was trying to frighten me and that I needed to be prepared for the scares that lay ahead. But what is immediately striking about the film is just how bare it is. There are very few peripheral characters and I can’t remember any extras at all. It contains no jumps, no gore and no real violence (there are only two kills in the film, neither of which you actually see). But none of this is a result of a very low budget, is a directorial decision that pays huge dividends and allowing David Robert Mitchell to create a true anomaly in the Horror genre.
The ‘thing that follows’ is always in human form, but it can only walk. Get far enough away and it will take quite some time to catch you. But while you sleep it continues walking, so catch you it will, eventually. This constant terror is with you from about 10 minutes into the film and stays until after the film has ended. After the film had finished and I went around the house closing curtains before going to bed, I found that I couldn’t bring myself to look out of the windows. Not because I thought there would be something there, but because what if there was?
Mitchell has written and directed a fantastic movie that is not just a good idea made into a film, or gimmicks that play to the genre. The film looks and sounds great, with some beautiful shots played out with a great electronic soundtrack by musician Disasterpeace (previously known for his score to video game Fez), very much in the style of Nicolas Winding Refn‘s wonderful ‘Drive’.
Psychological horror is always far more terrifying than gore and It Follows gets almost everything right. It is slow, bare, stark and creepy, building you up to expect a shock then leaving you hanging.
There is no doubt that It Follows will receive sequel(s), so make sure you catch the first before the money men destroy it’s legacy.