"It Follows" Film Review
By: Nathaniel Simpson
Death is an inevitable thing. Everyone knows they're going to die, yet there is a certain fear that encompasses feelings about death and the afterlife. In a way, this serves as the basis of David Robert Mitchell's indie horror film "It Follows", a project that does a fantastic job of creating a sense of dread and horror throughout the entirety of this movie. While many horror films nowadays show the downward spiral films in the horror genre have gone, it's movies like these that show there is still a major promise in the horror community for years to come.
The titular character of "It" refers to a being that follows an individual that has fallen victim to a curse going around. The aforementioned curse is spread through sexual intercourse, especially through teenagers. This is made evident to our main character, Jay (Maika Monroe), who sleeps with an older boy she has been on a couple of dates with. He used her to pass the curse, hopefully saving his own skin.
When you are under this curse, an entity follows you, taking the form of people you love or know. However, the only handicap this demonic entity has is it can only walk to its victims, letting their prey get an early start on them, in hopes of getting away. However, it does a fantastic job of terrorizing and tricking the victim, making them easy targets to exact its plan against.
There is really no rhyme or reason explained as to why this being does what it does. We never find out why it preys on the victims of this curse (which can sort of being interpreted as an STD as a whole), which docks the movie a tad. However, when looking at it as an artistic expression, it can easily represent the slow burn and inevitable death that every person goes through. Like the characters mention throughout the movie, this being will always follow its victim, even after they are able to pass the curse on. This shows how no one can really escape the cold hand of death, no matter how hard they try.
Even though this movie focuses on a part of human nature that has been done numerous times before, Mitchell makes it so damn entertaining and terrifying. I think there is something about the slowness of the victim and its effortless way to blend in that makes it so scary. Unlike characters like Jason Voorhees or Freddy Krueger, you can see them coming from a mile away. But in characters like this monster present, it is easy to look past and not pay them any mind. This is especially true when you're not expecting it. Mitchell adds in elements into the background to terrify the viewers if they are looking close enough; even though I have spotted many of them, I'm sure the viewer won't be able to spot all of them until multiple viewings after. He doesn't want the scary aspects of the movie to be front and center, but rather make the viewer work for it in a way that works so well.
In addition to the background aspects, Mitchell also tasked Mike Gioulakis to capture visually striking shots that is able to fully encompass the film in its horror atmosphere. The entire film has a terrifying atmosphere that does a terrific job making the viewer feel uncomfortable, and a majority of this is thanks to the shots from Gioulakis. He really gets up close and comfortable with the actors, borrowing their fear and translating it onto the screen.
I don't necessarily think the acting here had to be pitch perfect. The atmospheric visuals of the film does all this movie needs to convey the dramatized horror here. However, it doesn't hurt that the actors themselves do a fascinating job in every scene they are in. From Jay to her friends (played by Keir Gilchrist, Jake Weary, Lili Sepe), they all have this certain charm about them that feels very natural and organic in terms of their friendship and terror their characters feel.
I truly think Mitchell has a career here as a successful horror filmmaker. This movie easily shows everything he is capable of, and how he is able to achieve what he is going for in terms of the scope of horror cinema. This is easily one of the scariest modern horror movies, and I certainly think he is going to take all of that talent and channel it in his future films. Even if Mitchell doesn't decide to make another film in the horror genre, I think this movie does demonstrate how the horror genre isn't dead and can still terrify audiences to this day.