Film Reviews

IT FOLLOWS

By • Mar 15th, 2015 •

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Currently the best reviewed horror film of the year, and destined to become a cult classic in the mumble-gore genre. IT FOLLOWS feels like an old ghost story told at sleepovers. The concept is simple, spooky, and illogical – seconds after 19 year old Jay Height (Maika Monroe) sleeps with her new boyfriend, she finds out he’s given her a demon std. A shape-shifting creature will always be walking towards her, and if it catches up to her, will kill her. She’s the only one who can see it, and the only way for her to get rid of it is to have sex with someone and give it to them…

Ridiculous? Yes. But for the most part, Director David Robert Mitchell plays the rest of the film with the right mixture of absurdity, humor, horror, and wit that any criticism of his uniquely original movie monster seems beside the point. There’s been a lot of criticism with modern horror films feeling the need to over-explain everything. From James Wan’s surprise summer hit THE CONJURING, to the Blumhouse films, seemingly cranked out on a weekly basis now, every damn thing that makes a movie spooky must be explained in a clear and logical way at the end of the film. As a breath of fresh air, Mitchell never tries to explain the origins of his creature – maybe we’ll find out more in some inevitable sequel if this is a success. And while I applaud him for avoiding the trend, Mitchell’s creativity and cleverness eventually puts him in an awkward position where the end of the film doesn’t quite live up to everything before it. Mitchell’s creature begins to defy the internal logic the film gives it, and the last 30 minutes are a let down. But its moments of brilliance – most notably, an incredibly bizarre and comedic twist on the typical slasher opener – more than make up for its shortcomings.

Maika Monroe is fantastic as 19 year old Jay. Between her role in this, and last years THE GUEST (one of my favorites of 2014), she may be the new mumble-gore scream-queen. Mumble queen? She’s strong, but vulnerable considering what she’s up against, and plays the hunted, sleepless Jay without the usual blandness most slasher protagonists feature. Perhaps the best female lead in a slasher film since Linda Hamilton’s performance in The Terminator? Here, she carries the rest of the serviceable cast, giving an honest and logical performance while going through a surreal nightmare.

Ultimately, the greatest thing IT FOLLOWS has going for it is its wonderful cinematographer, Mike Gloulakis. The film looks and feels like a Sophia Coppola film set on Elm Street. A group of kids gather around on a beautifully lit schoolyard, discussing how to defeat demonic forces, and dozens of kids walk past them. Gloulakis uses the slowness of the creature to subvert the “boo!” moments into stretches of paranoia, and has your eyes constantly scanning every inch of the frame, so having every shot masterfully photographed calls more attention to the entirety of the screen.

With IT FOLLOWS, David Robert Mitchell has certainly planted himself as the newest member of the mumble-gore genre – following directors such as Ti West, Adam Wingard, and E.L. Katz. Drawing heavy inspiration from THE TERMINATOR and the graphic novel Black Hole, Mitchell’s fear-of-sex undertones feel rightly placed in a genre throwback to 70’s and 80’s slow-burn horror.

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