Director: David Robert Mitchell
Screenplay: David Robert Mitchell
Starring: Keir Gilchrist, Jake Weary, Maika Monroe, Loren Bass, Bailey Spry
Running Time: 100 mins
BBFC Classification: 15
A young girl, wearing only skimpy nightclothes and high heels (!) runs out of a house scanning her environment, as if looking for something. She bundles herself into a car and drives like a ‘bat out of hell’ to a nearby beach. The following morning we see her body, contorted and broken, lying in the sand like a discarded doll.
Days later 19 year-old Jay (played brilliantly by Maika Monroe) has sex with her new boyfriend Geoff, then falls asleep on the back seat of the car and quickly finds herself being chloroformed by her new beau. She wakes up some time later to find herself in a deserted car park tied to a wheelchair. Her now ex-boyfriend tells her that he has passed something onto her – a curse or something worse – and this ‘thing’, this ‘IT’ will follow her and if ‘IT’ catches up with her she will be killed. Out of the shadows a naked, dead-looking woman moves slowly toward them and Geoff unties Jay and lets her go before disappearing himself.
Over the next couple of days Jay becomes more and more convinced that something really is following her and means her harm so she tells her ‘Scooby gang’ of friends what has happened. At first they don’t really believe her, but after taking her to convalesce at a friend’s summer house miles away and discovering that something has indeed caught up with her, albeit eventually (it’s a slow walker) – even when chilling out on (another) beach – they decide that perhaps there is something weird going on and if they stick together and deal with it as a group, all being well, they can prevent their dear friend from becoming the next police forensic exhibit of human origami!
It Follows has had a great run of it around genre film festivals the world over and great word of mouth has enabled it to have a decent cinema release and, more recently, a high profile DVD release. But has all the hype been just that, hype, or is the film the horror film of the year that many have been claiming it to be? Well, I can confidently say that It Follows is a very good horror flick, with a nicely retro vibe about it.
Inspired by a recurring nightmare that director and writer David Robert Mitchell had as a child; It Follows has obviously been influenced by the films of John Carpenter, particularly Halloween, and Wes Craven’s Nightmare on Elm Street series. And for me, probably the most significant similarity, at least in general tone, is to that of some of the writings of M.R. James, particularly ‘Whistle and I’ll Come to You’.
The film is also rather strangely largely devoid of any adults, apart from one teacher and a couple of cops earlier on in the proceedings. However, I found the gang of teens to be quite believable in the way they interacted with each other and thought that the lads volunteering to have sex with Jay to help her with ‘her problem’ equally likely teenage behaviour! In fact if I was trying to summarise It Follows in one short sentence I would say that it was: The Ring with sex!
It Follows is really nicely shot, with lots of slow pans, and the director’s use of wide shots is particularly effective. In fact Mitchell manages to master the slower scenes as well as the faster-paced shock scenes, of which there are a couple of corkers, including the first appearance of what I refer to as the ‘tall man’, which seriously raised my heart rate, as did a reappearance of the apparition on a rooftop! All this is nicely underpinned by Disasterpeace’s excellent electronic music score, which I have to say, to me, feels rather Carpenteresque, and that’s a compliment.
One thing that I did find rather endearing about the film was that the central characters were not merely cyphers, but felt quite grounded and they all pulled together as a team, which immediately makes It Follows stand out from the majority of horror flicks out there, where incessant bickering and group politics usually reduce the victim’s chances of surviving until the final reel to almost zero…
If I had one criticism to make of the movie is that I’d have to say that at times it all gets a bit ‘arty’ and a little too ‘artfully’ staged, which reduces its impact a smidgeon, but overall I think It Follows is well worth a watch or two.
It Follows has recently been released on DVD and Blu-ray by Icon Home Entertainment. The disc’s only special feature is an interesting five minute interview with the film’s musical composer Rich Vreeland, aka Disasterpeace, who talks about his musical influences and how he came to be asked to write the film’s score.