IT FOLLOWS is Exactly What The Genre Needed – Movie Review
It Follows has been gaining all the buzz, as of late. Making its debut back in Cannes of May last year, with a hugely successful limited run, It Follows has now expanded to 1,200 theaters nationwide, giving more people the chance to finally see what some are deeming “One of the best horror films in decades”. Before delving any deeper, I will say this… I believe they were right.
It Follows synopsis, if you will:
It Follows tells the story of Jay Height (Monroe) who meets a guy named Hugh (Jeff). After the two start dating, one night they decide to have sex and after learning from Hugh that he’s passed “It” onto here, Jay must find a way to pass it on or to beat it before “It” kills her.
From the opening scene, It Follows shows us what kind of movie it sets out to be and what kind of movie to expect; a beautiful, mysterious, horror film. Beautiful shots intertwined with a mysterious girl looking at nothing, terrified out of her mind, open this film quite well. The direction, the sounds, it’s all so hypnotizing and really pulls you into this world of “It”. And with little to no films in his resume, Director/writer, David Robert Mitchell, really proved he has a knack for both arts. The opening scene, followed by every scene after, is worth of a replay. It’s very apparent that David has really mastered the art of the widescreen shots, giving this It Follows an even creepier vibe, while staying very slick. David’s direction changes from beautiful and still wide shots to a shaky cam style that makes you feel as though your there witnessing this horror first hand. None of it becomes too much and it’s all delivered at just the right pace.
It Follows doesn’t play on jump scares, but more on older traits found in horror films from the ’70s or ’80s. Finding ourselves severely attached to the characters and what’s happening makes for a film experience like no other. Going down to the wire, this film is about a sexually transmitted curse that follows its victims until it can be passed on. Maybe “curse” isn’t the correct word, but it doesn’t help the lives of it’s victims at all. Looking at this film from a different angle, some have pointed out that this movie isn’t about sex itself, but more about the anxiety of sex, while some see this film as a symbolism of transmitting STDs. I’ve also read theories that It Follows is a film about dealing with social anxiety in life and also a film about sex and death and the loss of innocence one feels after there first time… all the while still maintaining its rank in the horror genre. Yeah, if thinking about it too much, it can be a lot to take in. But I would happily agree with almost all those theories, expect about its core being about STDs. I do see the symbolism of social anxiety, sex, death, and the loss of innocence. It shines a light on all these, which I feel was part of its point. Whatever “It” may be, it does feel like the presence of social anxiety in everyday life. You can see it, but others just don’t quite understand. It Follows deals with sex, of course, but it doesn’t shy from it. It’s not made out to be this huge thing, but its still made out to be a landmark in a young persons life.
I felt like one of the most powerful scenes was when Jay is in the car after her and Hugh have sex for the first time and she’s reciting those lines about imagining her life as it is now and how the magic is lost. (For reference, watch the trailer here.) It’s about how we spend all our lives wondering how it’ll be to date, have sex, etc,,, Then when it happens? The mysteriousness and magic of anticipation is gone and we resume with our lives. All of these different themes play amazingly well within the movie. I believe why It Follows is such a hit is because every audience member can interpret what “It” actually is. Social anxiety, STDs, sex and death, it’s all up to the viewers imagination.
The writing in this film, in my honest opinion, was some of the best in a horror film I’ve seen in quite some time. Nothing felt like it was just added to be there, while everything felt like it enhanced the movie. Sure, some scenes did feel like they required an explanation, but those scenes were few to none. The relationship between Jay and Hugh actually had a bit of back story and made the inevitable betrayal by him sting a little. I thought we’d just jump into Jay’s first date with Hugh, then the film would officially “start”, if you will. But no, it’s developed and we see them become close or so we think. Adding tiny touches like this make the movie going experience feel that much better and genuine. There’s dialogue in this film, but it is kept very minimalistic, which was a very good call. The lack of dialogue from Maika makes her portrayal of Jay that much stronger. (And, you know, because she’s a terrific actor.) As for Jay’s friends, Yara (Luccardi), Kelly (Sepe), and Paul (Gilchrist), they all fit together in this movie so well and while other than Paul, they don’t have many scripted lines, they do make best with what is given to them. Watching them all together reminded me of older summer days spent with friends, so I’d say mission accomplished. Yes, we don’t really learn too much about them, expect Paul, given his crush on Jay, but they feel present as opposed to being distant characters within the movie, which can be pretty rare within the horror genre nowadays.
If you’re a score buff like me, I will tell you that Disasterpiece has created a score that will be remembered for quite some time. Following along the line of John Carpenter’s Halloween, this all synth score proves to make It Follows the film we’ve been looking for. Disasterpiece’s work really comes through and each song is like a little telling of a part of the story. It feels like it belongs to some horror movie from the ’70s, but it also feels current. It’s haunting, beautiful, and most importantly, super catchy. I’ve had the entire score on repeat for days now and after watching the film and seeing where each song has its place, I appreciate this score even more than before.
It Follows more than acceded my expectations. It made me think, frightened me, and its score is still stuck in my head. I do understand some of the audiences frustrations with it towards the ending and a few different story lines that weren’t quite answered, but this film really plays on all the strengths of the horror genre old and new, while leaving behind all the junk. If you’re looking for a refreshing and totally original horror film, It Follows is the film you’re looking for. It’s not your typical horror film, it won’t scare you in the normal sense, but it will get under your skin and make you think.