Dir: David Robert Mitchell
Writer(s): David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Daniel Zovatto, and Jake Weary
Synopsis: After a young girl gets involved in a sexual confrontation, she is followed by an unknown force.
*Reviewer Note: This will be a spoiler free review.*
You rarely see horror film reviews here because for some reason I have a bit of a hard time reviewing them. It’s not because I don’t like horror films – because I do – but there is something trying to tell people how the film works without giving away how it works and giving away an experience. That couldn’t be even more true with It Follows. So here’s the best I can do with it.
It Follows stars Maika Monroe as Jay, who after a date with Hugh (Weary) ends up sleeping with him and instead of the two becoming closer, Hugh chloroforms her, bounds her to chair and says that “It” will come after her and kill her unless she passes it on to someone else. What follows is an eerie, slow burn film filled with tension and a retro look and feel of a horror film.
I thought about not review It Follows only because I didn’t see how I can actually review it without giving away some of the things in the film. Also, the film is getting a ton of attention from the horror community and some even calling it the best horror film in years (which the statement itself loses its appeal after being overused every week for a new film). I personally knew very little about the film, I knew it was out there and sort of new the premise, but didn’t see a trailer or knew who was in it. But, now the film is getting more attention as the film is set for a bigger release after it’s impressive limited release box office numbers. I can attest to that since my screening was almost packed.
Back to the film, director David Robert Mitchell tries to give the film a timeless essence, but things like cell phones, the internet and social media is referenced here and there. Even one of the characters, Yara (Luccardi), has a weird e-reader. However, Mitchell wants the film to the timeless feel over all of that as Jay’s sister Kelly (Sepe), Yara, and Paul (Gilchrist) are seen watching black and white movies on their old school TV. However, it doesn’t really matter and the timeless issue doesn’t get in the way in the film overall.
Also, Mitchell gives the film a very retro 80s feel. The film has beautiful cinematography, shots that zoom in and out of an actor or thing, and a score that can come straight from an 80s film. Honestly, after watching the film all I could think about is if this came out during the actual 80s it would probably be a cult-following film even more than it is going to be probably today.
The film does fall into some horror tropes, like sometimes the music will kick in when something is coming, some jump scares – although they work very effective here because of the premise of the film – and the main character being seen as “crazy” because she is seeing something that no one else does.
When it comes to the “It” that follows Jay around, I kind of don’t want to give too much away, even the trailers are very vague when it comes to what “It” is. Hugh says that “It” can look like a stranger or someone you know, which automatically builds up the tension. The other thing about “It” is that it slowly walks toward you, think Michael Myers or Jason Vooorhees, but without the mask or blade. “It” also has a pretty unique approach and look. They way it has to be passed is, again, something you can totally see in an 80s movie and believe and when it comes to the look, well that’s just something for you to embrace when you see – although you can’t let “It” touch you otherwise, well, you know.
The cast is pretty great here, but the film does belong to Monroe. She brings a great vulnerability and dread to Jay as she has to suffer with “It” following her until she passes it on. She is constantly looking over her shoulder or locking herself in her room making trying to stay safe, but obviously it doesn’t really work. Keir Gilchrist who plays Paul gets probably the second amount of screen time. Paul has a thing for Jay and even though at first he doesn’t really believe anything is after Jay he goes along with it.
Luccardi and Lili Sepe, who plays Jay’s sister Kelly, Jake Weary’s Hugh, and Daniel Zovatto have their moments to shine but overall the story is focused on Jay, so their characters are put aside.
It Follows is a slow burn and minimalist approach to horror. It might, and probably will, test your patience in a lot of ways, but you can’t take away that It Follows has have a lot of originality to it. Things really don’t get going until the halfway point and even then, they still take a very slow pace for everything to get going for the final act. I will admit the final act of the film falls a bit flat in terms of everything else that was done before that, but it sort of works.
The other thing about the film is that it has multiple layers. It’s one of the rare films that had me thinking after I walked out because of one scene. The scene is in the final act that takes place in a pool. Again, I won’t go into it because I don’t want to spoil it but if you pay attention to what is said by Jay and then focus on something that comes up after, it adds a bit more depth to what happened. I know that sounds confusing, but It Follows is really one of those movies you want to tell your friends about but not say much because you don’t want to ruin it for them. It’s also one of those you movies you might have to watch again, so you can catch some of the more nuance things going on.
All in all, It Follows brings some new things to the table for the genre and while it fumbles in some areas, Maika Monroe and director David Robert Mitchell do some great things that will keep this film above some of the rest. With the multiple layers the film has and the great moments, I can see why many are calling this a much-watch horror film.
4 out of 5