It Follows.

It.

Follows.

Evocative, mysterious, bold and pure. Rarely does a title so perfectly encapsulate the mood and mastery of the film it represents, but for David Robert Mitchell’s remarkable horror, it stands as a testament to a film destined to be hailed as a classic of the genre.

Nineteen year old Jay, a girl on the cusp of adulthood still betwixt by the resplendent wonders of naïve youth, finds her life transformed by a sexual encounter that leaves her cursed by something beyond rationality. It can look like anyone, it will never stop and it is now pursuing Jay. If it reaches her, it will kill her. The only way to stop it is to pass it on, like it was passed onto her. Plagued by this being that only she can see coming, it’s up to her and her friends to find a way to stay one step ahead, and decide how to escape this horrifying fate…as it creeps ever closer.

Director David Robert Mitchell describes his inspiration for the film as a personal one, as the concept for the film’s menace, the ‘it’, came from recurring nightmares he had as a child. In this, lies the film’s genius. The languid, relentless motion of the unexplainable phenomenon, the unstoppable and unflappable it, is pure crystallised nightmare; not just an image, but a universal feeling we all dread, that inability to escape the endless circle of fear. This idea is reinforced through the structure of the film, opening with a twisting shot that takes a full 360 degrees of motion, establishing the sense of an endless (and eternal) struggle to escape the cycle, with all the inevitability of a nightmare. Indeed the film repeats images and set ups in a beautiful composition that reinforces this concept, while creating an ambience where the audience is never able to escape the fear of the it appearing, always lurking somewhere on the edge of the frame, between viewed reality and the imagined unknown.

Stylistically, the film has the technical control and atmospheric mastery of John Carpenter at his prime, with the use of space (through exquisite, haunting long shots and meticulous blocking) and the suburban dread of Carpenter’s masterful Halloween particularly clear as an influence. However, rather than play as a homage in one dimensional terms, It Follows is inhabited by the spirit of Carpenter, the ghost of a horror style long neglected and mishandled, only reinforcing the ethereal nature of the film, lithe and tainted with a haunting malice. The film is punctuated by explosions of raw trauma, as Jay finds herself cornered by the malicious being facing the many startling forms it decides to torment her with, ones I don’t wish to spoil here. Each of these stand out moments serve to creep into the dreadful peace of every moment, building tension as Jay and the group try to buy themselves more and more time, with every shot almost perversely lingering, awaiting the arrival of the horror.

Alongside Mitchell’s remarkable control and masterful atmospheric construction, the performances of the film’s young stars drive the film. Maika Monroe continues to deliver on the promise she displayed in Adam Wingard’s The Guest in the lead role of Jay. A character of intense complexity, Monroe imbues Jay with a sense of fragility as the hopes and wonders of youth come crashing down around her, replaced with relentless fear and a quiet unease. From the very first moments, it’s impossible not to be enchanted by her, and as the horror unfolds, her ability to capture the steady deterioration and obsessive paranoia of her character is as haunting as the dread of the creature itself. The supporting cast around Monroe also shine as a team of interesting personalities, as Mitchell is able to coax an incredible amount of character from this young collection of talent; the combination of all involved is full of chemistry and an honesty that serves to reinforce the sheer terror of the undefinable horror they are confronted with. Also crucial to the overall impact of the film is the outstanding score by Disasterpiece, known for his work on indie video game Fez, with its synth heavy tones and nerve shredding stings artfully establishing mood and tone in rhythm of Mitchell’s visual craft. It’s a perfect blend of visual and audio beauty laced with menace.

It Follows is a modern masterpiece of horror, both tender and absolutely terrifying. It stands as both a fascinating treaty on youth in its twilight, where wonders and joys are tainted by their own fragility, and a relentless exercise in creeping terror, a nightmare captured in film, striking right at your nervous system with a piercing precision that will leave audiences haunted by its fears long after the film has ended.

Movie Review: It Follows
5.0Overall Score
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About The Author

Matthew Hammond is a full time cinephile, specializing in cult, art house and 1980’s cinema. While film is his overwhelming passion, Matthew has been known to enjoy comic books, Sherlock Holmes stories and a good film related T-shirt. Feel free to email me with any questions or comments: mattpaul61@o2.co.uk