I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but it’s something I feel very strongly about. Horror movies these days have turned into spooky ghost stories filled with jump scares and very little real, lasting tension. But, there is a light, and it’s a bright one indeed. This light at the end of the tunnel of garbage is David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows. Why does this horror movie succeed where everything else seems to be failing? Well, pretty much every memorable aspect of this movie is the answer. It Follows is the best American horror film since the ORIGINAL Paranormal Activity, and is definitely one of the best American horror films of the decade.
Jay (Maika Monroe) is just your everyday college student that seems to be in your average, everyday relationship with he new boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary). After their first time getting a little hot and heavy together, Hugh lets Jay in on his horrible secret. There is a supernatural entity slowly following him, and since they had sex, it will now be following Jay unless Jay can pass it on to someone else through a sexual encounter, and if not it will kill her. Now, with the entity slowly following her everywhere with the intent to kill, Jay and her friends have to find a way to get rid of it, by either passing it on, finding another way to get rid of it, or suffer the consequences.
The best part about this movie is that it made me feel something. It made me feel distressed and anxious, which in turn made me feel nervous and scared for the characters. There’s real suspense happening in It Follows and the pay off rarely ends in a cheap jump scare. Sure, there are a few, but those aren’t the parts that are important. What really pulled me in is the fact that somewhere in the world, this thing is walking towards whoever has it, and it may not catch them very quickly, but it’s always there and it’s always walking. Just put yourself into the shoes of the characters. That is an awful thing to have to think about, and it made me relieved that I was just watching a movie.
Let’s take a step back from the content and look at how the movie is made. It’s easy to shoot a bland movie. That may be why so many exist that really aren’t any good. I don’t expect too much technical achievements in a horror movie, but this one was just fascinating. Much like the supernatural being in the film, the camera always seems to be slowly moving towards the characters or peering through a door or window like some sort of deranged stalker. It’s a chilling effect and works perfectly for the movie. Now, add the excellent, retro score of Dangerpiece and you got yourself a treat. The music is eerie and unsettling and has been compared to the synth scores of horror movies in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The whole movie looks and sounds retro. Just count the cell phones.
What else do many horror movies of the past and present seem to be missing a good amount of the time? Intelligence? Yeah, intelligence. It Follows is a surprisingly intelligent movie with an original screenplay and characters written like actual human beings. Mitchell had a great idea and worked with it to achieve such an refreshing, original story. The actors in the movie also work well because A.) they’re talented and B.) they characters are written well and three dimensionally. It’s an excellent combination.
It Follows blew my mind, plain and simple. It’s a horror movie with brains, scares, talent, confident execution, and originality. There’s very little violence or gore, but there’s enough dread and suspense to keep me going for a life time. What David Robert Mitchell has done is get to the roots of what a horror film is and what it should do. There’s a message about sexuality and growing up weaved into it that makes you think while also being scared. Bravo, Mr. Mitchell. You’ve made something truly special.