Written by: Daniel Hadley
Directed by: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi
It follows is the kind of movie that will be remembered for a long time. It’s probably the first modern horror movie that I believe will be remembered as a classic in years to come. The Conjuring fell just off that a while back and before seeing It Follows I was sure that The Conjuring was one of the best examples of modern horror. It takes a movie like It Follows to remind you of what great horror truly is: No cheap jump scares just well built suspense, strong characters even stronger cinematography and a phenomenal score. This is the cream of the crop, this is the kind of horror that sticks with you, the kind of movie likely to have you checking behind you when you’re alone at night.
The premise is very simple, Jay, played very well by Maika Monroe (who recently impressed me in The Guest) has a sexual encounter with a boy she has been seeing. Shortly after she is chloroformed and tied to a wheel chair and here is where the guy lays out the rules, since she has had sex with him this thing is going to follow her, it only ever walks and it can look like anyone and it will sometimes look like people you care about just to get close to you, and if it catches you it will brutalize in a way that I won’t ruin here. After describing the premise to a few people some of them called it silly which on the face of it I suppose is a fair assumption, but it’s all about the execution and It Follows is executed brilliantly.
A horror movie has to work damn hard to check all of the right boxes but It Follows marks each one effortlessly, so just to be clear: I love this movie. The wraith, ghost, demon or whatever this entity happens to be is one of the simplest yet most ingenious horror creations to hit screens in a long time. Being that it just walks towards its victims may make it sound like a bit of a dud, but when you’re in a tiny kitchen and you are faced with the beaten toothless face of a young girl slowly lumbering towards you, or in a short narrow corridor and a seven foot tall dead-eyed brute is heading your way I think you’d change your tune.
The cinematographer – Mike Gioulakis – deserves special mention. Seeing the camera slowly pan around and back to the same shot of a distant figure getting ever closer while Jay goes about her business and with each pan the figure is closer and then closer, builds such a great feeling of dread that it’s hard to compare to another movie this year. I had high hopes for The Woman in Black 2 but that just boiled down to a carnival ride like attraction filled with jump scares. It Follows builds its tension so organically that I felt every single scare was earned, nothing in this movie is cheap or out of nowhere. As an audience member you know when something is coming but just like the characters there is nothing you can do but watch as this things moves ever closer to its target; it’s glorious.
Already many debates have arose as to what this entity is, many claim a haunted STD, I think that over simplifying it. The writer/director Davis Robert Mitchell himself has said that the idea came from a dream in which a small child would slowly approach in the distance, no matter where he ran it would always be just around the corner. After reading that I threw any notion of a haunted STD out of the window, leaving everything ambiguous was a smart move. I’m not one of those apologists who thinks that leaving your creature’s origins unknown somehow makes your movie smarter, but within the context of the film these characters have no way of finding out and so they don’t. There is no contrived scene where they look online and somehow stumble upon a website detailing exactly what they’re looking for, or come across an older victim who gives them all the juicy details, these character are left in the dark, scared and alone.
So to summarize: This is a truly great piece of horror filmmaking. This is the kind of film that made me scared to leave my bedroom at night and I don’t admit that easily as it makes me sound like a total wuss, but it did. Certain scenes in the movie had me staring, unblinking as chills ran up and down my spine. This is great horror and I want more of it.
The more we as a collective audience support smart horror movies like this the more movies like this we will get, that is exactly how I felt about the excellent Snowpiercer and the same can be said here. the score alone is worth your time, Disasterpiece have worked wonders here, it’s one of the only horror soundtracks I have listened to over again after watching the movie. Great horror like this is getting rarer and rarer these days so see this movie while you have the chance, I can’t recommend it enough.