The idea of a movie based around a sexually transmitted curse is so good, you can’t believe its never been done before.
It Follows from writer/director David Robert Mitchell is a tour de force of horror. A singular vision, a mythology that seems so complete, that it’s genuinely one of the scariest movies in years. It feels like it’s one of those timeless horror classics from the 80’s, the style, the score and the aesthetic are all just from another time.
Maika Monroe stars as Jay, who after sleeping with her new boyfriend, is told that he’s passed a curse onto her. That an entity will me follow her, slowly and relentlessly until it kills her and goes back up the chain, unless she passes it on to someone else.
“This thing… Its gonna follow you. Somebody gave it to me and I passed it you…”
After they have sex, Jay is chloroformed and tied up. He explains in detail how the curse works. The imagery is stark and decaying. Jay is tied to a wheelchair in a broken up concrete building. I later found out the look of the film is inspired by the amazing photography of Gregory Crewdson, an American artist who’s tableaux photographs are more like paintings.
Once Jay realises “it” is real, she spends the rest of the movie trying to figure out how to escape it and where it comes from. The entity itself can appear as anyone, so there’s a level of dread and fear about where it’s going to come from next.
The way the film deals with Jay’s trauma and fear is pretty realistic given that she’s being pursued by some supernatural STD. It would have been easy to turn this into a dark comedy, but It Follows plays it serious and it works. It has a Michael Mann feel, specifically Manhunter. The movie dwells on establishing shots, with the score by Disasterpeace just bubbling in the background. It makes even innocuous shots of a backyard pool look terrifying. The director has cited John Carpenter and George Romero as influences, which you can definitely see. The shambling, relentless zombie style of Dawn of The Dead and the unknown shape changing of The Thing are both echoed in the looks of the villain. Then again, It Follows still manages to remain true to its own identity and not lean too hard into homage.
I guess that’s why this film is scary. Fear of the unknown. The fear of catching a sexually transmitted disease. The fear that someone innocent looking could just attack you.
The creature itself changes its look constantly, but one thing that remains consistent is the element of the grotesque. It’s constantly got something uncomfortable going on. Missing teeth, nudity, one of them even urinating on itself as it lumbers towards Jay.
One of the best things about the film is the score. The composer Disasterpeace uses a electronica /8-bit type of sound, that whilst being similar to an 80’s horror is also uniquely its own thing. The main theme is absolutely incredible and the incidental music is so creepy and fear inducing.
There’s been talk of a sequel, of travelling back up the chain to find the origin, but I think that would ruin things. I think the reason this film works so well is the sense of mystery.
It Follows is a true modern classic and not seen by nearly enough people. Don’t miss it.
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