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John’s Horror Corner: It Follows (2015), entrancing and unsettling, this gritty timeless film serves as a powerful cautionary metaphor to the consequences of unprotected sex.

April 2, 2015


MY CALL:  Entrancing and unsettling, this gritty timeless film serves as a powerful cautionary metaphor to the consequences of unprotected sex.  Beautifully executed and a unique experience; quite an unusual combination in the horror genre. 

This film felt like so many familiar things, yet like nothing else.  The presence of a Kindle (or something sort of like that) indicates that the story takes place now—or close to present day.  Yet the use of corded phones and minimal presence of cell phones creates a sense of media isolation, much like pre-2000 horror, and the overall feeling reminds me more of an 80s horror setting.  Adding to this isolated 80s sensation, the entire film is scored with synthesizers.  This scoring is of much higher quality than an 80s film, and the style sets an ominous tone that readily resets our uneasiness as we watch.


And what is it we’re watching for?  After an intimate encounter, a young girl (Maika Monroe; The Guest) is told by her newly ex-boyfriend that “something” will follow her from now on; that this something once followed him but he has now “given it” to her.  This something has no specific form or identity and may appear as anyone, from a random unknown person to someone you love.  The only certainty is that, where ever you are, “it” will be somewhere walking directly towards you…until it takes you, or you give it to someone else.  “It” becomes a palpable nightmare.


And that brings us to the most important thing of all:  this movie is scary?  You may not leap out of your seat or scream, but you will be scared.  This film propagates more of a continuous, quiet sense of dread.  As with White Noise (2005), Shadow People (2012) and Paranormal Activity (2007) we find our eyes locked on the screen, looking for the “it” that “follows.”  Suddenly every person in the background becomes a candidate and every time a door opens we wonder if “it” will pass the threshold.  Typically we watch a screen and may jump at the appearance of a killer before his victim.  Here, we watch more in the same manner as the victim.  I really felt like I was in the movie for many of the scenes.


Is that displaced person the “it” that “follows,” or just a red herring to keep us on our toes?  You’ll find you’re on your toes a lot while watching this film.

There was one scene towards the end that I didn’t like.  It was a long and major scene, but still just the one turned me off.  You’ll know it when you get to the indoor pool scene.  It felt like it belonged in a different movie of lower caliber.


The pool scene, if viewed alone, smacks of a typical (but watchable) direct-to-DVD horror movie of moderate production.  It just didn’t “fit” the film well in my opinion.


Director/writer David Robert Mitchell is brand new to the business, but I expect he’ll become a household name to horror fans.  As far as I can tell, It Follows serves as something of a cautionary metaphor representing the risks of unsafe or premarital sex and being “followed” by the consequences, even the sense of dread that may haunt one while waiting to receive the results of an HIV test (or any STD test).  This metaphor, however, really pushes the envelope and the realness and likability of the young cast veils this nightmare with urgency.  There is one particularly intense scene in which “it” takes the form of a teen victim’s mother, and the way it “takes” you when it finds you is quite a disturbing image that was burned into my mind.  This film was unsettling and gritty, for sure—and it does it without a menacing killer with a name and a scary past.  It does it with a nameless, protean entity; an unnerving breath of fresh air.


Even my horror-desensitized mind was on edge as I watched this masterfully crafted horror.  This truly unique and beautifully executed film pleased me overall.  It felt like a classic horror from the late 70s or early 80s with a modern production treatment.

Ignore the sexual theme, understand that there is nothing raunchy or gratuitous to be seen, and enjoy sense of unmatched isolated dread of It Follows.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. April 2, 2015 10:12 am

    Great review.

  2. Victor De Leon permalink
    April 2, 2015 11:43 am

    just skimmed thru your review, bro. I am going to catch this over the weekend. I will double back and read your write up right after. I am pretty stoked for this. I wish more horror flicks would stand out like this one seems to be. Thanks for the head’s up!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 27, 2015 9:29 am

      You see this yet, Vic?

      • Victor De Leon permalink
        May 27, 2015 9:15 pm

        oh yeah, John, sure did bro. I reviewed it. really liked it. your write up was dead on, man. going to a special screening again of it here in Rochester, soon. it has its haters but i thought it was really well done and in its simplicity, it excelled in many parts. that score was killer, too!

        here’s my write up of it. hope you dig it:

  3. April 2, 2015 11:51 am

    Great review. It Follows is nightmarish. The story concerns a curse which is passed from person to person through sexual intercourse. In this nightmare, an inexplicable terror is following the protagonist… This is the most refreshingly terrifying horror movie I’ve seen in this year.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      April 14, 2015 11:28 am

      Nightmarish indeed!

  4. April 6, 2015 11:10 am

    Still really need to see this 😀


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  2. It Follows: A Fantastic Horror Film Full of Dread, Urgency and Patience | Movies, Films & Flix
  3. Absentia (2011), a quietly scary adult fable melding the Billy Goats Gruff with a hauntingly melancholy atmosphere. | Movies, Films & Flix
  4. The MFF Podcast #11: Sexually Transmitted Demons and Human Centipedes | Movies, Films & Flix
  5. John’s Horror Corner: The House of the Devil (2009), style trumps substance in Ti West’s delightfully atmospheric callback to 70s and 80s occult horror. | Movies, Films & Flix
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  8. John’s Horror Corner: Don’t Breathe (2016), so much more than a home invasion movie with a dark secret. | Movies, Films & Flix
  9. John’s Horror Corner: Truth or Dare (2018), another serviceably enjoyable Blumhouse film mixing It Follows (2014) and Final Destination (2000), but packing little punch. | Movies, Films & Flix
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  11. John’s Horror Corner: The Bye Bye Man (2018), PG-13 horror at its cash-grabbing worst about a dumb boogeyman. | Movies, Films & Flix
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