It Follows (2014)
Directed by David Robert Mitchell
Running time: 100 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
For nineteen-year-old Jay, Autumn should be about school, boys and week-ends out at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, she finds herself plagued by strange visions and the inescapable sense that someone, something, is following her. Faced with this burden, Jay and her friends must find a way to escape the horrors that seem to be only a few steps behind.
I’ve said it here before but I rarely like modern horror films. I did a list of My Top Ten Horror Movies (HERE) and the most current one is from 1985 (Day Of The Dead but I’d also count A Nightmare On Elm Street 3, so… 1987. Dream Warriors rules!). That’s pretty sad – I suppose I’m showing my age. There have been a few okay ones such as The Descent and 28 Days Later, comedy ones like Tucker And Dale Vs Evil, and foreign ones such as Let The Right One In but, until the brilliant The Babadook came out recently, I was really disappointed with the horror genre these past 28 years. It Follows, although not perfect, is still in the very rare “good horror” category for me.
It Follows is a hard movie to describe. I’ll say it’s definitely going to be one that will divide horror fans. This is one of those horror movies that’s apparently been shown at a lot of film festivals since last summer & is now getting a full release in the UK (and in the US on March 13th). It’s had some glowing reviews from critics & very positive word of mouth. It’s a slow, atmospheric, low budget (as far as I can tell) psychological thriller. Those looking for loads of gore will need to go elsewhere as will those who want a fast-paced horror full of cheap jump scares. Not to say there aren’t jump scares in It Follows but it feels a bit more fresh and far less formulaic than something like The Conjuring, which I thought was also a pretty decent modern horror yet was still guilty of certain horror clichés.
I’m still trying to figure out what other movies can be compared to It Follows. Bear with me – I’m going to list a lot of them as I think it may (or may not!) give you a better idea of what to expect if you watch this one. At times I thought it felt like a Ti West film (especially The House Of The Devil) in that the pacing is very slow & a lot of attention is paid to creating the right sort of atmosphere & setting. I also thought it had the same sort of mood & pacing as the slightly underrated All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. From the little bit I’ve read about the movie online so far, I was surprised to see some comparisons to The Virgin Suicides as well. I can see that – it has similar characters & the same sort of mood (plus both share a similar Michigan setting, I suppose). The Virgin Suicides is definitely set in the 70s, however, but It Follows is one of those films that seems to make a point of not revealing the exact year. There’s just enough to show that it IS set now however the use of old cars, old televisions, black & white films, the clothing not being too specific to a time period, etc, makes you sometimes question when this is all taking place & gives it a timeless feel that I really like. Finally, certain scenes made me think of A Nightmare On Elm Street while the fantastic John Carpenter-esque score constantly brought Halloween to mind.
I should mention the characters & the acting. The main girl, Maika Monroe, is very good & young enough to actually be believable as a teenager. She’s also apparently in The Guest, which I haven’t yet seen. I loved that she had a real Nightmare On Elm Street “Final Girl” look about her (specifically a cross between Patricia Arquette then Tuesday Knight from A Nightmare On Elm Street 3 & 4). It will be interesting to see if she’s able to break away from the horror genre & be in other types of films. The other actors all did well and I liked their characters, which is rare for a horror film. One of my biggest complaints about horror movies is that the characters are so underdeveloped and hateful. In It Follows, they focus on Monroe, her sister, two of their friends & a neighbor boy. The friendships were believable as were the ways in which they tried to help their friend with her visions of being followed by people only she can see. They don’t always do the “smartest” things, as is the case with most horror characters, but they didn’t do anything to the point of being annoying.
I suppose I should wrap this up before I compare It Follows to every other horror film ever made. The thing is, it actually feels quite unique which is why I’m still trying to decide how I really feel about it & trying to figure out what other movies it could possibly be compared to. I do admit that I’m a sucker for a good score and I LOVED the retro synth score from Disasterpeace. It really helps set the mood & I do wonder if I’d have enjoyed the film as much without it. As I also said, the movie is very atmospheric & I loved the Midwest suburban setting in a non-specified time period. As for it being scary? Well, I have to admit that I didn’t find this one at all scary but very few movies manage to frighten me. It may work more with teenagers as It Follows is basically about not having sex before you’re ready and STDs & all that but, unfortunately, this slow-paced psychological type of horror probably isn’t the type of movie that teenagers will like. Overall, I enjoyed It Follows and always appreciate films that try something a bit different, especially in a genre as tired as horror. It’s not as good as The Babadook but I’m still happy enough to say I’ve actually seen two good modern horror films in the past year now.
My Rating: 8/10