By Niall McKenna, Contributor.
It Follows is a rarity; an excellent horror film. Director David Robert Mitchell takes a devilishly simple but original concept and runs with it, delivering smart thrills and an even smarter exploration into the intensity and fear that can accompany adolescent sex and relationships.
The film stars Maika Monroe as Autumn, who after losing her virginity to Hugh (Jake Weary) is haunted by a shapeshifting apparition that only she can see. It has no discernible motive other than a malevolent doggedness to follow and kill, as we see in the chilling opening sequence. Such a fantastic concept is not wasted under Mitchell’s direction, a horror heavily influenced by those of the 70’s and 80’s but free of the genre’s tired tropes. Monroe is as perfectly-cast as she was in 2014’s similarly retro-inflected The Guest, yet here she drops teenage angst for naïve desire and mind-eroding terror. She is supported by an equally strong young cast; Weary is affecting and pitiful as Hugh while as Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and Greg (Daniel Zovatto) act as foils to his unravelled masculinity. By establishing believable relationships the film is grounded when the phantasmagoria hits, and more importantly gives us characters to fear and root for.
In a strange but clever reversal the only way to assuage the curse is to pass it on to someone else. But even this won’t keep you safe for long; if one person is killed, it follows right back down the chain. Once the premise is established much of the fun comes from glancing over character’s shoulders at what could be nothing but might be fatal. The film is sparing with gore but that being said there are visceral scares that border on Alien levels of revulsion. Dread is built to dizzying heights via intelligent camerawork; we might glimpse it heading straight for us only for the camera to slowly, achingly pan 360 degrees. It’s beautifully shot, the peaceful cinematography of Detroit suburbia punctuated by extreme screaming close-ups and the frantic motion of steadicam. This pace characterises It Follows and is brilliantly accompanied by the sounds of DisasterPeace, the score alternating between prowling synth and ratcheted electronic roar. This is a pace that characterises this film; stunning in action because the groundwork has been laid in quieter earlier scenes.
The climax is fantastic, motif and setting combining to create an otherworldly space where everything simply erupts. It Follows lives up to its title, a horror that lingers long after the credits roll.