Film & TV

Film Review – It Follows

“I am no prophet – and here’s no great matter.”

When reading or hearing the premise for a film it is sometimes impossible to not immediately think of another. It Follows is about a killer curse which will relentlessly hunt down its victims until they “pass it on” by having sex. It charts what happens when one girl, Jay (Maika Monroe) becomes cursed. No one could be blamed for being reminded of The Ring upon hearing this synopsis. Others may recall horror films which have attempted to add a sexual element, such as Teeth. Thankfully It Follows owes much more to The Ring than to the latter. Rather than simply causing crossed legs at the thought of such a gruesome outcome from sex, It Follows is deeply unsettling, leaving me stuck to my seat during the credits, knowing that I was at least safe in the cinema.

After Jay gets to know a boy (in the biblical sense), he explains the nature of the curse he has bequeathed her and implores Jay to pass it on. The maleficent, murderous force of the curse will track its victims to the corners of the earth, but at a relatively slow pace, allowing them to outrun it. Most of the time. The looming, constant presence causes Jay to isolate herself, always trying to get away from the curse, but never getting quite far enough.

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To be effective, horror needs to create tension and It Follows creates tension superbly, primarily through its soundtrack which is reminiscent of Halloween but different enough so as not to be jarring. With a unique brand of dreadsynth of long, low, distorted notes, the film’s score (composed by Rich Vreeland under the Disasterpeace moniker) gets under your skin and into your head; it makes waiting for the inevitable jump-scare almost unbearable, a welcome relief once it finally does arrive.

It Follows is an unashamedly old-school style of horror but approaches some of the more traditional tropes in interesting ways. For example, the obligatory visit to a haunted house happens on a sunny afternoon in suburbia but still manages to be terrifying, a testament to the suspense built by the careful direction of David Robert Mitchell and the aforementioned score. Similarly, rather than have all of the parents coincidentally out of town at once, leaving the teenagers to babysit (and throw “ragers”), the parents are just never really on screen. Occasionally we see the back of a head, or a fleeting glance as the camera pans but they’re never expanded upon as characters. Poor relationships between the adults and children are subtly implied but, again, never explained.

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Despite these achievements however, It Follows still manages to squeeze in a few tired and unrealistic clichés – teenagers who only watch black and white films and only horror films at sleepovers, for example. The film also indulges in some overlong scenes towards the end of the film and probably could have done with some extra time in editing. In part due to these lengthier scenes and a general feeling of repetition, some of the scares become less effective later in the film.

Another refreshing change is a well acted cast of teenage characters who, while not the most likeable bunch, seem like real people who have real lives and will continue to be affected by what they have encountered. Although largely shying away from the gang of stereotypes which have become typical of modern teen horrors, the film isn’t entirely successful and still has some pigeonholing: the ‘hot one’ Jay, the sister Kelly (Lili Sepe), the ‘bookish one’ Yara (Olivia Luccardio), the neighbour boy Greg (Daniel Zovatto). The relatively small cast ensures that we don’t spend time wondering who is going to die next. In fact, the total death count is very low and rather than attempt to scare with excessive blood and gore, It Follows tries to create an oppressive atmosphere, stifling the characters and terrifying the audience.


Michael Wood

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