UK Release Date: 27th February 2015
Runtime: 100 minutes
Director: David Robert Mitchell
Writer: David Robert Mitchell
Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Jake Weary, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Daniel Zovatto
Synopsis: After having sex with her new boyfriend, a young woman finds herself pursued by a relentless creature that she must pass on to someone else.
Good horror films seem to be in short supply in recent years. A diet of found footage junk food pervades mainstream multiplex horror, but occasionally something really special comes along. Last year’s The Babadook proved to be an interesting take on familial grief and, this year, David Robert Mitchell is making headlines with creepy festival hit It Follows.
Jay (Maika Monroe) is a romantic young girl dating Hugh (Jake Weary). They have sex in his car, only for Jay to awaken tied to a chair. Hugh informs her that she will now be pursued by a relentless evil creature that wants to kill her, until she sexually transmits it to someone else. Jay recruits her friends, including gentle Paul (Keir Gilchrist), Kelly (Lili Sepe), Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and their neighbour Greg (Daniel Zovatto), to help her stay alive.
It Follows takes the age-old horror film ‘sex equals death’ trope and gives it an intriguing makeover. In the world David Robert Mitchell creates, sex isn’t immediately greeted with death, but you will be followed by the prospect of death until you pass the curse on. It’s a genius conceit that comes to gruesome fruition in the film’s absorbing prologue.
| "I used to daydream about being old enough to go on dates."
From the start of It Follows, there is something unsettling about its setting. The streets recall those of Haddonfield in Halloween and there are clear echoes of Carpenter throughout the film. Televisions are boxy and seem to only show 1950s sci-fi films, but one of the central characters spends much of the film reading from an oddly-shaped device similar to a Kindle. It Follows is the modern world – but not as we know it.
The film then introduces us to Maika Monroe as Jay. Monroe, who was the breakout star of The Guest last year, is dreamlike and ethereal as Jay, who is just as off-piste and bizarre as the film’s not-quite-modern setting. There’s something not quite right about her woozy performance, but she anchors the film wonderfully. Alongside her, the rest of the teenage cast add to the offbeat feel of it all.
It’s the concept, however, that lifts It Follows to the top of the horror pile. As the dozens of zombie films influenced by Night of the Living Dead will tell you, there’s something incredibly terrifying about something that simply continues to chase you – even if it’s doing it incredibly slowly. Jump scares are used rarely – but incredibly well – with most of the scares coming from the way in which It Follows trains its audience to constantly check the outer fringes of the frame. The phantom could be anyone, and that’s terrifying.
| "Wherever you are, it’s somewhere… walking towards you."
The film is receiving rave reviews across the world and is being held up by many as a genre classic in the making. It’s not quite as good as that, with the final third losing a lot of the complexity and intrigue of the initial conceit. However, director Mitchell does leave the audience with a teaser of a final shot that creates an important note of ambiguity.
Pop or Poop?
It’s not the ground-breaking genre touchstone that many are calling it, but It Follows is a creepy, interesting horror film.
David Robert Mitchell’s interesting world is led by an excellent central performance from impressive young talent Maika Monroe, who fits perfectly into the hazy, dreamlike setting.
On top of that, there’s a lot to unpick in terms of themes and it’s really bloody scary too.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.