It Follows has been making waves since it first hit theaters. The sophomore effort from writer and director David Robert Mitchell is one of the most original horror movies in years. The narrative follows Jay and her friends as they face an entity that is transmitted via sexual contact. This entity can appear as anyone, like The Thing, but must walk to get to its victims. It Follows is a movie that focuses less on visceral scares and gore and more on atmosphere and tension. The film plays with the common trope that when you have sex in a horror movie, you die. In this film, the characters know the danger, but are still horny teenagers looking to have fun.
Despite having an evil force moviegoers haven’t seen before, It Follows takes many of its influences from the horror classics of the 80’s. The film opens with a beautiful long take similar to John Carpenter’s Halloween and the score by Disasterpeace feels like a John Carpenter score. Even the cars driven by the teen characters are 80’s retro models, despite the film taking place in the modern world. Paired with the fantastic cinematography, all these elements give the film a signature style.
Most horror fans would want to know if the film is actually scary. Early reviews pumped up the film as one of the scariest in ages. It Follows is a film that relies more on atmosphere and slow-burn tension instead of jump scares. The two jump scares are instead played for laughs. The film may be scary for some, but those expecting balls to the wall terror will leave disappointed.
It Follows spends much of its time deconstructing the horror genre. The supernatural entity is never fully explained; it’s just a deadly force of nature. There is no backstory of a woman scorned or a boy drowned in the bottom of the lake. It’s a vicious STD and the only way to stave off your death is to have sex with someone else, sealing their doom. David Robert Mitchell lets scenes play out that seem normal on the surface, but more often than not, the background action shows someone walking towards the camera. It’s up to the audience to determine wether the pedestrian is friendly or following. I found myself becoming just as paranoid as the characters, looking at edges of each frame for someone watching.
That’s what truly sets It Follows apart from its peers. The film gets under your skin and burrows into your psyche. After exiting the movie theater, people just walking on the street seemed more dangerous. I had officially gotten the creeps. Days later I couldn’t get the film out of my mind. The strange subtleties started making more sense and prompted more questions.
It has been a week since I’ve seen the movie and one thing is for certain: It Follows follows you.
Freelance writer and screenwriter living in Pittsburgh. Film buff, video game buff, and music buff, but not actually buff.