April 2, 2015
It Follows (***) Rated R
With the horror opus It Follows director/Writer David Robert Mitchell succeeds where so many of the so-called fright flicks of the PG-13 variety—think Ouija, Annabelle—have failed. He also does this on a fraction of the budget that those studio backed projects had in their corner. It Follows is full of suspense and atmosphere and takes its time unfolding its tale but, with rare exception, fulfills its promise.
The film owes more than a passing debt to those hallowed horror film directors (Wes Craven, John Carpenter, George Romero) who crafted many of the genre’s established classics from forty plus years ago, in style if not substance. In particular, the film evokes the feel of Carpenter’s Halloween film from 1978 with its use of synthesizer score and in the way the film is lensed and set against the backdrop of early fall. Astute horror film fans will notice this and are certain to appreciate the homage, among many other things that, on a technical level, are to be embraced in the film.
The film is set in around the decay of Detroit, Michigan.
After a bizarre opening set piece wherein we spy a dead woman lying on the beach with limbs twisted beyond recognition, the film then follows the comely and young Jay (Maika Monroe), who is dating mystery man, Hugh (Jake Weary). Jay’s friends aren’t too sure of Hugh and later, after Jay is the victim of an inappropriate sexual liaison at Hugh’s hands, there’s really cause for concern. Especially when Jay reveals that by having sex with Hugh she has been targeted by a demonic figure that is passed on by sexual transmission.
It sounds ridiculous but the filmmakers manage to make the plot both plausible and scary. It’s a testament to Mitchell’s strength as writer/director that the audience can follow along with the film every step of the way.
Scene from the new horror classic, It Follows
One of the things I really admired about the film was its reliance on scary and disturbing imagery in place of buckets of blood and gore to goose up the audience. This is the kind of thing that made the original Insidious and the film Sinister so enjoyable for me and there’s much of it to be found on display in It Follows. It’s refreshing to find a film that actually seems to have a real desire to actually scare its audience, something that’s all too rare these days.
If there’s one bone I had to pick with It Follows—and there really is only one to speak of—it’s that the film suffers from the same problem that too many of today’s films fall victim to the problem of the ‘non-ending.’ It Follows doesn’t so much as end as it just stops, as if Mitchell just couldn’t find a way to successfully end things so he just decided not to end them at all. It’s a problem that plagues too many films these days but if one can forgive It Follows this transgression, one will find much to embrace in this breath-of-fresh-air horror movie experience.
It Follows is playing in Hickory
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