It Follows (2014) – 8.5/10
It Follows is the second movie by American director David Robert Mitchell. After a short film called Virgin in 2002, his first full-length film was a coming-of-age drama titled The Myth of the American Sleepover, released in 2010. The film was distributed by IFC Films and followed four young people in suburban Detroit searching for love and adventures during the last weekend of summer vacation. Four years later, David Robert Mitchell returned with this supernatural horror movie that was a commercial success. Critics approved of it, despite being an independent film that was shot on a low budget. It Follows debuted at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014 before being released on a wide spectrum the following year.
The story follows Jay (played by Maika Monroe) as a college student who goes to see a movie at the theaters with her boyfriend Hugh (played by Jake Weary). He starts acting afraid of something and they leave. On their next date, they have sex in his car. He puts her to sleep with chloroform. She wakes up tied to a wheelchair and Hugh explains that he has passed on a curse to her through sex. He explains what the curse is, what will happen to her if she ignores the curse, and how she can get rid of it. He explains that if she gets rid of it, she will have to explain all of this to the next person, so that the curse does not ever come back to her, and then (by default) back to him. After all of this, Hugh returns her to her home and then drives away. We find out that he was living under a false identity and did not really live at the house he said he was living at.
Now if this whole movie sounds like the horrors of an STD or an unwanted pregnancy after a sexual encounter, the movie does a good job of never making it feel that way. The curse is a supernatural entity, and what follows is an extremely good pacing of scares and occasional horrifying images. In addition to this, David used recurring dreams he had as a kid about being followed as the inspiration for the anxiety that is felt throughout the film. This also helps create an overall surrealistic atmosphere filled with nightmarish images. This allows the film to tap into the psyche of the viewer and make them feel as though they are right in the movie.
The film also has an old school feel to it. David used wide-angle lenses to give the film an expansive look. This helps achieve the look that horror movies had in the 1970s and 1980s. David also cites being influenced by great directors such as George Romero and John Carpenter. This is obvious because of the composition of the film as well as it’s visual aesthetics. The color scheme sometimes uses bright neons colors like in past horror movies, and the musical score reminds me of the memorable orchestral moments in movies such as Halloween and A Nightmare on Elm Street. This throwback to older horror movies creates a nostalgia, which when paired up with the modern day scares creates a winning combination. Like The Babadook, it is one of the better modern day horror movies, because it is an original story, it is influenced by the horror movies of the past, and makes use of the technology of the present. This is a great movie for fans of atmospheric horror, but also for fans of horror films in general.
A lot of praise goes to the use of tension throughout the film. I only rate it lower than The Babadook because it is slightly inconsistent in terms of acting and also in terms of plot. But overall, this is a very creepy and well-made film and it should be seen by anyone who likes scary movies.