It Follows, written and directed by David Robert Mitchell is a unrelentingly purposeful film. An easy enough to follow (no pun intended) concept is immediately delivered to you and from that moment on you are with this film. Not once do you want to look away or miss something because this film makes sure everything you are seeing, is crucial to the world within the film.
The easy enough to understand, but odd to explain plot of It Follows has to do with the transference of some… thing from one person to another, and it’s through having sex with someone, that this… thing will stop following you and begin to follow (settle in to seeing the word follow a lot in this review) the person you’ve just had sex with. If it catches you it kills you, and then its attention will revert back to the person that it was previously following. Simple enough right?
What is so refreshing about It Follows is how simple, yet rewarding its story is. Writer and director David Robert Mitchell sets up the idea of his film in the beginning and then never deviates from it. So even when there are moments where you are enjoying a touching moment between the characters, there is always that nagging thought in the back of your head that the thing that is following them is out there and could be about to come creepily shuffling into frame.
This is perhaps what is the most genius aspect of It Follows, the fact that just like the main character of the film, you yourself are always looking out for the thing (I still don’t really know what to refer to it as) and wandering, “Oh crap, is that it? Or maybe it’s him. Who cares! Please just run!”
This is a film that pulls you in deep, and once I was in, I wanted nothing more than to see it through to the end. What also assists in this state of mind is the engrossingly brilliant performance by Maika Monroe, who plays the lead in the film, Jay Height. She is faultless in the film, and her journey from a normal everyday teen to a fleeing, terrified and desperate individual is absolutely compelling. There is subtlety in what Monroe does with her performance, and compared to how most female characters in horror films are played, she does more than a convincing enough job in making her feel like a real person (with actual real reactions I might add).
Where Maika Monroe is slightly let down, is in her supporting cast. The characters that surround our lead are not as well done. Apart from maybe actor Keir Gilchrist, who plays Paul in the film, the rest of the cast of characters are woefully underdeveloped and serve very little to the film. These characters are also hampered by some awkwardly off beat dialogue that at first had me a little concerned about the quality of the film; thankfully those concerns didn’t last long.
What was certainly an aspect that helped change my preliminary opinions of the film was the eye for detail within the film making, and its desire to present a quality horror flick. Director David Robert Mitchell actually played with the camera in scenes; not locking it down or presenting your typical stale horror scene, instead we had moments that were so cleverly constructed, and then shot, that when you got to the payoff, you couldn’t help but be smiling and terrified at the same time. The opening shot of the film is the perfect example for this: a slowly rotating camera in which you are unknowingly being introduced to the concept of the film; no cuts, no unnecessary narration or text popping up on the screen, just a smartly constructed opening that leaves you curious and engaged.
What I’ll finish on is something that I wasn’t expecting It Follows to come packaged with, and that is a hauntingly addictive 80’ synth score. Films are all about merging all of the tools at your exposure together and having them complement and enhance each another. The score in It Follows is the perfect representation of that. Along with all the other brilliant parts of this film, its score is another piece of the beautiful puzzle, and one that I’ll be listening to for some time to come.
I loved my time with It Follows. This is genuinely scary horror film that doesn’t treat you like an idiot. So much of what passes for horror these days is lazy and insulting. It Follows doesn’t throw in cheap, unnecessary jump scares so as to fill the void of not having a compelling film. Writer and director David Robert Mitchell played it simple yet intriguing with his film and it more than payed off.
I absolutely recommend It Follows. I don’t really feel like I need to say any more, just that you should definitely treat yourself to not only the best horror film of the year, but perhaps one of the best for some time.