It Follows (2015)

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After a night out on the town, Jay (Maika Monroe) and Hugh (Jake Weary) head back to his car to have sex together. She’s enjoying it, but it seems like Hugh has other things on his mind. After the sex, Jay is chloroformed by Hugh and wakes up tied to a chair. Approaching her is a naked woman, slowly walking her way. Jay is told that this demon will follow her in many forms, until she has sex with someone new and passes it on. She returns to her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and childhood friend Paul (Keir Gilchrist) to try to figure her situation out.

Hugh has tied Jay down to a chair.
Hugh has tied Jay down to a chair.

It Follows comes extremely close to being one of the best horror films of the 2000’s, but I don’t think it is all that it has been hyped up to be. The film is less about being scary than it is about being unsettling and possibly teaching the lesson of safe sex. It certainly hits every nail on the head in the creepy department, but its ambiguous ending did leave me a bit annoyed. I did go in expecting to be terrified, but this film is so much more than being scary or trying to toy with audiences.

Writer/Director David Robert Mitchell has proved to be a master of suspense, creating an unsettling atmosphere which leaves you in a constant fear of what’s to come. His camera work is half of what freaks you out, as he tracks the suspension and leads you to the edge of horror, then quickly pulls you away before any real harm becomes of it. His use of focus, or sometimes lack thereof, also leaves you wondering who each individual is in the frame. Anyone in the frame could be following the characters and you’ll never know until it’s almost too late.

Jay and Paul discuss options.
Jay and Paul discuss options.

Maika Monroe did great in The Guest, another thriller that had her starring in a leading role. This time around, the stakes are higher for her and the fear she brings to her character is terrifying. She looks genuinely afraid of the people around her, never knowing if one of them will try to kill her. She has her moments of strength while trying to fight the demon, but she also falls victim to the moral decision of whether or not to pass on the demon. That decision weighs a lot on her and the repercussions could mean her losing people she is close to.

The story and the problem for the characters is what makes this film such a success. It’s easy to write this film off as a “demon STD film” like some have, but it’s more about how the characters react to that dilemma. Can you put someone through such a horrific ordeal and expect them to simply take the word of a stranger, or friend? Do you save your own life by serving up someone else’s? Sex in this film means more than it does in most, despite the fact that it’s not often about love. Watching how these characters deal with this problem makes for a fascinating time, while also managing to be horrifying.

Jay and Kelly fear what's coming.
Jay and Kelly fear what’s coming.

Adding more layers to the film’s already unsettling nature is the terrific score, which balances thrills and chills with each track. I’m currently listening to the soundtrack as I write this and the goosebumps are steadily moving up my body. A great soundtrack can really influence a film and this one left me absolutely paralyzed. Unfortunately, I did find some parts of the film a bit odd and somewhat unnecessary. The way the demon is dealt with towards the end of the film was something unexpected, but it didn’t work for me. This is also a film which could have been more frightening, had there been a bit more focus on whatever the demon was.

It Follows is a very creepy horror film that relies more on discomforting the audience, rather than scaring them. The steady camera work takes you close to the face of terror and 360 degree shots throw you off and have you searching for comfort. Maika Monroe continues to establish her presence in the thriller genre and writer/director David Robert Mitchell really does a terrific job with this film. It’s more interesting to look back on and observe the morality of the characters and that’s not something that happens after watching most horror films. It may not be the best horror film of the 2000’s, but it’s definitely up there.

It Follows Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96Itg4gjtts

4 STARS!!!

4 / 5 stars     

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