By Christy Blevins
The Indie film It Follows is a marvelously done horror film with just the right amount of thought-provoking explorations of sex and societal commentary that every contemporary horror film fan will enjoy.
Opening the film is a young girl running out of her house screaming in heels, a cliché that all horror movie fans will appreciate. It Follows starts out with a strong nod to the classics that came before in this line of film not only with the baked in clichés, the brilliant lack of special effects, and simplistic plot, but also with a score that is quite reminiscent of John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978).
The first scene captivates the audience immediately with a continuous shot of a young girl running from something that seems to be following her, which only she can see. We follow this girl out of her house, to a secluded waterfront, to a shot of her the next morning, dead. That’s all we see of this girl, but not of the source of her fear.
Then we’re drawn into the storyline. For 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), the fall should be all about focus on school, weekends, and dates with boys, but all of this soon changes. We are drawn to her classic, quiet, suburb neighborhood, and semi-conservative style which make her character even more realistic and relatable to the audience. After an awkward and seemingly innocent date and sexual encounter with Jeff (Jake Weary), a 21-year-old she had been dating, Jay ends up plagued by an inescapable sense that someone, or something, is following. And according to Jeff, her feeling is not wrong, as when he had sex with her he passed on the burden of some entity that takes human form and follows you, slowly, until it can catch up and eventually kill you. Faced with this terrible burden, director and writer David Mitchell takes the audience through a journey of Jay and her friends and their attempt to escape the horrors that seem to be only a few steps behind.
The movie draws on many influences from classic and beloved horror films, such as the aforementioned Halloween and even The Ring. Filmed in many ways like these movies, Mitchell proves that overly-hyped special effects are not needed to make a true scary movie, but rather a unique and a just “slightly relatable so it could be realistic” plot is all you need – plus believable acting and a great score, but It Follows had all of that as well.
The action of this movie spreads shame and horror across the characters, but also releases a commentary on society. Spreading of the “It” is clearly a metaphor for the spreading of sexually transmitted diseases and the harmful, unthinking, and fatal effects these have on you, and those you choose to infect. Who knew a horror movie could get so deep, right?
Counteracting this in the real world means tracking down previous partners to ward them, however in this movie, the problem forever follows you and, in a discreet and invisible way, you must pass it on or choose the end to your own life.
It Follows dives into a deadly external threat that focuses its attention on morality and consequences. Mitchell utilizes all the ways sex can be used in a movie to further the characters and develop their nightmares. Sex functions not only as a self-defense mechanism, but also as a weapon, seducer, release, and ultimately the metaphor.
Having an invisible and unrecognizable predator makes your blood run cold when you find it on screen. Mitchell’s film is full of cleverness in the simplistic plot, but never cheats or strays from the main idea, which is much appreciated from a classics fan, considering the type of horror films normally made today.
The audience is left at the end with not only a sense of satisfaction of the quality and scare of the movie, but also with the dissatisfaction of what happens to the characters in the future. But the real question It Follows leaves you wanting an answer to is “who was the first to explain to rules of the haunting and pass it along?”