“Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor. Put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking out the door.” Never did I think this concept could be used for pure evil. Now it has. It Follows is the breakout horror hit from writer/director David Robert Mitchell and like the best horror films it learns that all you need is a little to scare a lot. In this case, it’s a simple premise, so simple that it’s amazing that no one has ever done it. A sexually transmitted haunting that follows you until you pass it on. Only you and the previous carrier can see It. It can look like anyone, sometimes even people you know, and if you are killed by It it is then passed back to the previous carrier. The whole idea feels like an urban legend we were all told as kids to scare us away from sex, but in this movie its real and it’s coming.
The film “follows” Jay (Maika Monroe), an attractive teenage girl living in the suburbs with her group of friends who do nothing but lay about and watch old horror movies. “It” comes into play after Jay goes on a date with Hugh (Jake Weary) only to find herself chloroformed and tied to a chair after their act of passion. Hugh explains everything I listed above and lets her go. Leaving the curse as her ball and chain to carry, one with a short chain too.
What It Follows does best is take what we normally regard as “safe moments” and instill them with fear. What I mean is that in most horror movies you can usually tell when the scary parts are going to happen and when the not scary parts are going to happen. For most horror films “night = scary, while day = safe.” It Follows does not follow these same rules. For It Follows any time of day is scary and anyone around you can be scary. The feeling of dread when you see someone walking towards you in the distance, not sure if they’re coming for you, only to find out they are. It’s those surprising moments, heightened by musician Disasterpeace’s ‘80s inspired score, that make the film stand from the rest of the crowd.
I give It Follows props for its unique premise, but that doesn’t mean it is completely invulnerable to cliches. Probably the biggest one is character logic. Though I did like the cast and appreciated that they weren’t annoying, screaming douchebags saying “dude” every other line, they make a lot of bad decisions. “Hmm, I’m scared. Where should I hide?” How about a swing set at creepy park near the woods at night?” Or how about, “I’ve been driving for so long, where should I rest? How about the hood of my car in the woods?” You could at least sleep INSIDE the car.
Other minor complaints were that the film relied a little too heavily on its score. I would have loved to see more scenes of “It” simply trudging along in silence, it would have been nice to get that contrast. Also the jump scares. I understand that horror films, especially quiet horror films need jump scares, but at least make the scare mean something. A red ball hitting a window so that it can make a “thump” is lazy. If that’s the best scare you can come up with in that scenario you’re not thinking hard enough.
One more thing, I don’t know what this film is trying to say. Myself and my colleagues Mr. Lemme and Mr. Wessman talked about this after watching this movie. Is this saying something about teen pressure to have sex? STDS? Rape? Maybe it’s nothing, which is fine. Though I do feel like there’s some untapped potential here. I would have loved to see more hints toward a deeper meaning to give the film more substance. This doesn’t necessarily hurt the film, it’s merely a suggestion.
Overall, I’d say It Follows is definitely better than your typical modern horror film. It’s original, scary enough, certainly stylish, and was assembled by a solid cast and crew. Hopefully success can follow David Robert Mitchell with his next project instead of catching up to him and boning him to death. Otteni out.