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It Follows: A Fantastic Horror Film Full of Dread, Urgency and Patience

April 10, 2015

It Follows movie poster

It Follows has a unique style that blends a lurking sense of dread with absolute urgency.  It isn’t afraid to mess with the genre while sticking to well-worn tropes.  If you combined  All the Real Girls with Nightmare on Elm Street and threw in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Elephant and The Sixth Sense you would have something sorta resembling the film

It follows

Director David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American Sleepover) takes my favorite aspects of horror (urgency, dread, patience) and combines them with a beautifully simple story about the dangers of sex. Mitchell lets the film breath and this allows the rabbit and hare story to unfold organically. The teens sleepless state creates a dreamy atmosphere that is captured nicely by the lingering camera and patient editing. The film moves at a methodically slow pace yet you have a hard time catching your breath.

The reason this film works so well is because of Maika Monroe (The Guest). She has an earthy vibe that makes you dread every moment she chooses to sit alone in a park or have her back turned to a door. She isn’t being pursued by an evil creature because she brought it upon herself by being an 80’s teenage horror cliché (only exists to have sex). She trusted the wrong guy and was doomed to be hunted by an always following and often shape shifting ghost. How could she have known that this nice guy needed to pass a curse onto her via intercourse in order to stay alive?

It Follows swimming pool

I recently wrote a post about the Best Walking of cinema. Within the post I lamented how filmmakers nowadays rarely let the camera linger. In the fantastic 1949 film The Third Man we get a walk off camera moment that lasted two minutes! The point of the excessive walking was that it made the ending amazing. The hero was waiting by his car so his love interest Anna Schmidt could catch up. Instead of talking to him she looks straight ahead and walks past the camera. The scene built suspense by simply placing a camera in one spot and letting the moment pass by.  It Follows adopts this strategy and uses it to dubious means.

it follows old lady walking

A wide-angle lens + an old woman walking = something that is a whole lot scarier than the majority of the crap out there.

The opening scene expertly encapsulates what is to follow. It features a teenager in silk lingerie (Think DePalma) and high heels running from something unseen. her high-heeled footsteps are played up in the sound mix and they combine with the heavy synthesized soundtrack (Think John Carpenter) to build tension. What is most appealing about this scene is that it was filmed in one take. Thus, we know we are getting a hybrid horror blend that has true talent behind the camera.

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Mitchell’s film conjures up a dreamy and desolate suburban world that feels like a trap. The people drive old cars, go to throwback cinemas and only one person has a cell phone. It is a timeless place with rules that don’t 100% apply to the real world. The teenagers act like teenagers and that is a good thing. These are not the kids from Dawson’s Creek dealing with a sexually transported killer ghost. These are real high school/college kids who stay close to home and risk death so they can potentially have sex with a pretty girl. They come up with really weird plans and more often than not they fail. I totally understood why they never traveled far way because they had no money, cars or understanding parents to help them.

It Follows is the rare movie that stands up to the hype. It borrows heavily from other films but in the end it feels like its own thing. Mitchell is a director to watch and I hope he doesn’t cash in and make less effective sequels.

Co-writer John (The Horror Leviathan) wrote about It Follows as well. Check it out! 

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15 Comments leave one →
  1. April 10, 2015 8:57 am

    Great to see another person heaping deserved praise on this. Nice review.

  2. April 10, 2015 10:04 am

    A very terrifying flick, but also one that’s very smart. But it also never seems like it’s trying too hard, either. Which is what matters most. Nice review.

  3. April 10, 2015 10:54 am

    Based on what you wrote Im seeing this ASAP. I love it when horror movies do something new with the genre. Yeah I hope this doesn’t get a sequel neither

    • April 10, 2015 4:07 pm

      Let me know what you think when you watch it! Stoked to hear your thoughts.

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