Each year tends to produce one critical darling in the horror genre. 2012 brought us Cabin in the Woods, then we got The Conjuring in 2013, The Babadook in 2014, and it’s looking like the 2015 edition will be It Follows, the sophomore effort from wirter/director David Robert Mitchell. It Follows has a concept as good if not better than such recent horror movies as this and is very well executed, but a handful of imperfections keep It Follows just outside the pantheon of great horror movies.
It Follows has an A+ setup. Early on we are introduced to Jay, who is pretty much a hot 19 year old and that’s about all you need to know early on. Early on, she is essentially raped by her new boyfriend Hugh. It seems pretty pointless given that she was a more than willing partner, but regardless, she is knocked out, then she wakes up tied to a wheelchair in an old parking garage. Hugh is there, standing guard, and when Jay comes to, Hugh profusely apologizes for what he “had to” do. He explains that “It” is going to come for her now, and she has to avoid it, because if it kills her, it will come back for Hugh. Still bound, Hugh wheels Jay to the ledge of building they are in to see a girl slowly walking toward the building and up the floor they are on. Hugh & Jay escape, Hugh explaining that she needed to see It to believe it. Furthermore, we learn It is a shapeshifter, being able to take the form of any person It chooses, and even though It is slow, It is also relentless, chasing Jay wherever she goes. Oh, and it’s smart.
A sexually transmitted shapeshifting clever shambling monster?! I’m in! I felt like Mitchell drew quite a bit of inspiration from Slender Man, both of which are great concepts for a low-budget horror movie b/c your monster is just a person acting creepy. No worries on reliance of cheesy CGI, a minor issue The Babadook had. A couple of the people get some makeup as well, but for the most part, the scares come from the dread of the unknown moreso than your typical over-CGI’ed jump scare that permeates the genre.
All in all, it makes for a jarring viewing experience, one which is very well-directed by Mitchell. Several wide shots are used, and while you should be focusing on the actors, a part of you can’t help staring into the background, just looking for some random person to slooooowly creep up on our protagonists. There are also a couple well done long takes used to heighten the tension throughout. It absolutely passes the “creeped out” test for me. No audible screams, but Mitchell does a great job unnerving the audience. Beyond the cinematography though, I felt like the monster could have been used better. There are for sure some great uses that I won’t spoil, but there’s definitely some missed opportunities.
Now, personal taste does not detract from a movie much, but It Follows flirts with committing a cardinal sin in the horror genre: poor establishment of the rules of the world. Several actors play the monster since it is a shapeshifter, but each uses very different “shambling speeds,” which made it difficult to understand the level of danger at times. The monster is left a mystery for the most part and is given a handful of opportunities to go for the kill that it does not take. One scene in particular is very logic-breaking in this regard – I audibly scoffed when I saw it, and there wasn’t enough of a plot device to warrant the event. Does it just like the hunt? I’m not sure, but I think you could safely infer that.
There is certainly some deeper analysis that could go on here, but not nearly as deep as something like The Babadook or Cabin in the Woods. It Follows is a solid entry into the horror genre and is definitely worth a watch if you like a good horror movie.