Review: It Follows

 

Autumn should be about school, boys and week-ends out at the lake. But after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, Jay is plagued by visions and the inescapable sense that something iis following her. Jay and her friends must find a way to escape the horrors that seem to be only a few steps behind.

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On paper It Follows is the type of film that should have got right under my skin. It leaves plenty to the imagination, it’s full of creepy imagery and even the idea reads like a story that would have left me freaked me out for days. In the end however, It Follows didn’t scare, unnerve or even grab me at all. It seems that this film is not the sum of all its parts – and I’m unsure why.

The premise is a simple one, there is something following you – but only you only you can see it and if it touches you, you die.  After sleeping with her new beau – and thus inheriting the creature, Jay (Maika Monroe) is drugged and warned of her follower, which is now stalking her throughout the film. With the help of her unconvinced, but loyal friends they try to help her evade the creature as it stalks her. Appearing in human form and slowly walking towards the ‘prey’  the follower is a great concept, that tries to give some scares. Unfortunately quite a few are easy to spot, but then so are a number of red herrings.

The film started strong out of the gate and I was looking forward to watching something fresh and different. It Follows seemed to be promising, especially with how the first 20-30 minutes of the story develops. It just didn’t manage to deliver what it initially promised.

The casting is wonderful with Malika Monroe taking the lead (fresh from her great performance in the Guest), I was glad to see her become more of a leading lady. The script and dialogue were also refreshingly strong. It was good to see teenagers/young adults depicted in a horror film as socially troubled and struggling characters. Instead of the usual walking caricatures and stereotypes that talk with the bravado of a 80s muscle-bound action hero.

The film it must be said, did stumble a little in the third act and the scene at the Swimming Pool almost ruined the film for me. The idea of the logic of the ‘plan’ hatched to deal with the follower seemed completely and utterly illogical, not to mention the events that happen as the sequence actually played out. I think I was hoping that the follower would be more in the mind than a physical being.

The ending of the film however I really liked, and I loved the fact that the group of us, even if we were not enamored with the film ended up stood outside dissecting and trying to figure out its meaning. (Opinions in the group ranged from ‘loved’ to ‘not for me’) Its nice when a film leaves few stones unturned and docent take its audience to be a bunch of simpletons.

The film is a great premise, wonderfully shot, fantastically edited, the characters are well written and rounded and the sound design and soundtrack are incredible. I’m not too sure where it stumbles aside from its story. By the time the lights had come up, I wasn’t sure what I had thought of the previous 90 minutes. To an extent that I’ve left it a few days before writing this.  I didn’t dislike the film I watched in any way, but in the same sense hadn’t been grabbed by it either.


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There was a quite a buzz around It Follows, after its London Film Festival screening. Many considered it a worthy addition to the indie horror scene and I have been looking forward to seeing it. Then John saw it and while he liked it he wasn’t blown away by it, along with more “it was ok” comments seemed to appear on social media my expectations lowered a little (well quite a bit actually).

The premise is something a little different, with the curse passed to each victim through sex; a STD horror film if you like, got to be something new. I don’t recall anything really quite like this, Teeth is possible the closest film I can think off, though I’m sure there is something out there that is similar.

Yet with my expectations lower I found myself really enjoying the film, its cast, the cinematography and the superb electronic score. It all felt a little 80’s at times. Maybe that was just the music, sometimes reminding me of Goblin’s horror score’s, or even the Maniac (remake) score by Rob. It was the music which really drew me, at times the sound of its impending fear really made my hairs stand on end.

Maika Monroe, hot from her turn in the superb thriller The Guest was on great form as Jay, as she was given this STD/Curse by her new boyfriend, Hugh (Jake Weary). He does warn her of her fate, and tells her to pass IT on. With her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and a couple of friends she tries to avoid IT at first, then opts to pass it on. But it isn’t that easy, if her victim is touched by the thing following them then they die and they would follow her again. This actually produces some very creepy moments through the film, one thing I really liked was the following thing would appear at any time, day or night and alone or in company, ITs aim to kill the latest curse victim. You were never sure who would be following sometimes they would just appear in the crowd and start following the victim. While it was all rather creepy and unsettling it really didn’t push the scares, a few jump moments here and there, and mostly false ones. Yet it should be enough to make Mark at least leave his seat a few times.

David Robert Mitchell directed and wrote It Follows, and being his 2nd feature I was rather impressed with it, there are some great tracking shots. The screenplay is solid and he really did creep me out at times. I mean his horror is playing on a condition which is prevalent in society today and that’s a scary notion.

In the end I really did like IT Follows, it’s not perfect, I felt it needed some more horror moments, but there is always an element of fear and impending doom, something I liked a lot.


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In an age of remakes and safe options I had high hopes for IT FOLLOWS, even if a horror film isn’t great in its final execution then if it tries to do something different than what has gone before then that automatically gains it brownie points from me. So we come to IT FOLLOWS, a tale of be careful who you sleep with as you never know what they may be passing on to you.

IT FOLLOWS is a very clever idea for a movie and not one that in terms of its story I have ever seen before. The premise is quite simple; to take away the curse of the vengeful ghost that haunts you then you pass the curse on by having sex with another person. Am I the only one that sees some sort of moral undertone here? What happens if you wear a condom? Or don’t ejaculate. I bet that proper screws up them ghosts heads.

Does that make for a good movie? Yes and no. Yes in terms of its uniqueness and the fact that I see echoes of the golden age of Japanese ghost horror and the fact that only you can see the ghost is a nice twist. There are also some dashes of the FINAL DESTINATION series in that no matter what you do there is no escaping death. Except in this movie there is. The cast in this movie is superb and very likeable, unlike the usual American teens in your typical horror that you don’t give two shits about. There is also a clever use of sound and very little on the actual soundtrack which for me got the focus on what was happening on screen.

So to the negatives? It’s a horror but it wasn’t scary. Ok it could be eerie and attempts to get under your skin but for me that didn’t happen either. It is effective and to those who scare easily it will have its moments but I like my horror films to freak me out but this didn’t.

That said… in an era of insipid and dull horror that occasionally gets a shot in the arm, IT FOLLOWS is a much needed hit. Whilst not quite THE CONJURING, INSIDIOUS or SINISTER, it has enough within to catch your attention and keep you entertained. I for one really enjoyed it and would happily sit through it again. How many modern horrors can you say that about?


Poltergeist is out on DVD and BluRay 29th June 2015


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