The last time I saw a good horror movie it was James Wan’s modus operandi, The Conjuring. Now that Wan has moved on to things more Fast and Furious, the horror genre has opened the door to a new director. It Follows is David Robert Mitchell’s debut at the genre, and like Wan, he combines old elements with new, to create a new brand of horror.
In the opening scene of the movie we see a girl (Bailey Spry) frantically running around a suburban neighborhood with no particular motive. She steals her parents’ car, drives off to a beach where the following morning we are introduced to her corpse, all bent up and mangled. What follows are vignettes of our scream queen Jay, wonderfully played by newcomer Maika Monroe (The Guest). We know that she is a college student, has friends that she frequently hangs out with and that she is interested in a boy.
In true old school, John Carpenter-esque fashion, the scream queen has sex and everything goes downhill. That’s where Mitchell’s twist comes in. After a scene where Jay and her love interest (Jake Weary) have sex, she is subdued and tied to a chair where Hugh explains that he had to pass it along. Whatever he has, it will follow you. What follows is some disturbing camera work to explain to Jay and the viewers what is going on.
What Jay receives from Hugh is a nightmarish, ghost STD, an entity, which follows you in any shape or form. Throughout the course of the movie we see the victims being tormented by nude males, friends and loves ones. The worst part of it all is that only Jay and other victims can see it.
I am very curious to know what Mitchell’s thought process was towards his craft because almost everything he uses for this film is complete. His camera angles are not meant for instant shock value but instead keeps you focused and on edge throughout the film. It’s a sensation I have never had with a horror movie. The setting was even better which takes place in the suburbs of Detroit where the drab dullness and subtlety works as an interesting backdrop. It even gets better when the scenes are shot in the city where I viewed it as an endless framework of straight up eerie. Lush close ups and pan outs of the dead urban decay of 8 mile could not have been used any better. Visually, this movie is stunning, beautiful and loaded with intent, a rarity in the horror genre.
Mitchell’s screenplay is seamless for the story he has plotted. The moments where there is a lack of dialogue it is replaced with raw human emotion, which is a great tool to juggle the viewers emotions from sympathy to fear. The moments where Jay talks about her “disease” has your concerns as much as when an entity is chasing her or the close ups to her face as the tears roll down her face due to fear, sadness, frustration and pain. This is all of course played over the wonderful score done by Disasterpiece. Imagine 80s camp with the beat of a Cliff Martinez score. Sounds terrifying yeah?
There is a bunch of underlying themes and suggestions, which I think Mitchell, wrote with intent. The whole idea of having sex with someone and having an entity chase you can be very easy to self parody, but if you as a viewer choose to ignore that notion, than It Follows is a terrifyingly unique, perverted, sick and thought provoking film that has not only the potential to be a cult classic, but an urban legend.