Aside from its prologue, which introduces the threat and what it does, David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows presents a hazy kind of teenage dream. A beautiful girl, Jay (an unforgettable turn from Maika Monroe), goes on a date with a typically attractive uncharacteristically nice older guy, obviously things take a sharp U-turn into nightmare grounds, and the dream falls apart.
I feel no reserve in calling this one of the most accomplished and terrifying horror films of recent years because it keeps its distance from numerous genre pitfalls and goes to great lengths to insight an odd alien reality. A Lynch-like suburbia, drafted in long serene shots, is kept ominous by shouts behind closed doors. Michael Gioulakis’ Crewdson-inspired visuals are an absolute delight, keeping the shots wide and roomy, dark and haunting, where the threat can literally burst in from any angle at any time. Characters are rendered miniscule in the face of, not only the monster, but the world they live in. Boundaries are questioned and solace can only be found by fleeing to the outer city; a decrepit, nightmare, version of the film’s starting point.
Disasterpeace’s stellar soundtrack manages to avoid post-Drive boredom by mixing up the retro synth with some frankly brain melting 2-bit beats. It’s a wise move, and stops the film from falling too far into nostalgia, sure there’s Halloween inspirations on screen and sound, but not so blatant they pop the bubble. Like Halloween Mitchell keeps adults out of the picture -for the most part- and lets his band of likeable adolescents run around dealing with their own scary problems, the effect is fantastic, achieving a kind of idyllic world of sleepovers and dates.
But I shit you not, this is one scary movie.
A supernatural threat that follows, locking onto you until it destroys you, taking the guise of loved ones, strangers, naked or clothed, is utterly crushing. There’s a good word, It Follows spins past scary and straight up introduces an idea that just crushes you with its implications. Escape, persuasion, even fighting, are all off the cards. Run or die, that’s it.
The film does lose its way at points, the group of friends are likeable, but hardly substantial characters. Mitchell also deflates his rather lofty threat when he lets it get into close contact with its victims. Perhaps the promise of death and destruction, is far more frightening than the act of seeing it done. It’s in this very way that the film’s finale stutters also, having the group attempt to fight back in a way that makes no sense considering earlier encounters. It’s this final retaliation that threatens to ditch the film amongst lesser features by being predictable in its desire for a big set-piece.
Even after a questionable finale, Mitchell’s essay on sex and youth is pretty perfect horror viewing, and features the most chilling scene I’ve been subjected to in many years. More so than The Babadook, It Follows could perhaps decree a new age in horror cinema. Perhaps.
Dir. David Robert Mitchell
Stars. Maika Munroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Daniel Zovatto