Friday, April 24, 2015

It Follows

It Follows
David Robert Mitchell

After having sex with her boyfriend, Jay (Maika Monroe), is faced with the horrifying revelation that she is being pursued by a thing that only she can see. It can look like anyone and it won’t stop until it catches her. They only way to pass the curse along is to have sex with someone else. Jay struggles with the decision of who to put in danger, all the while, the thing is closing in on her with each passing moment.

It Follows is impressive because it isn't afraid to be weird. A typical film would have had our teenage heroes scrambling to uncover the secret of the single-minded monster, all the while trying to stay out its clutches. It Follows takes an interesting route by having its lead accept what’s happening fairly quickly, and her efforts are much more devoted to dealing with things in the present. It reinforces the immediacy of the situation, the unnamed creature becomes an ever present threat.

Grandma, where's your hall pass?
It Follows trades less in shock and far more in dread and tension. As a viewer, the movie lures you into scanning the background for any figures that are approaching, a habit it happily uses against you. There is little explanation for why this situation is happening, and that’s key in keeping the antagonist frightening. There is simply nothing to grasp on to in hopes of stopping it. It’s relentless, but not entirely mindless. It’s a great monster in that is allows the viewer to project whatever they like onto it, and something I’m certain that will be diminished with any inevitable sequels that seek to fill in the gaps.

If horror in the 2010s will be remembered for anything, it’s sound design. The Babadook (2014), Starry Eyes (2014), and many other films have made incredible use of their audio component to drive home the chills. It Follows uses an unnerving electronic score:  a steady sub bass pulse, swirls of noise, and chiptune flourishes to keep the pressure on during quiet moments and descend into chaos when threat is imminent.

Spring Break foreveeeeeeer....
The humans of It Follows stand in contrast to their shark-like opponent. Where it is focused, they are aimless (at least at first). They live causal lives in a decaying suburb with little to do but read esoteric writings on their e-readers and watch public domain science-fiction movies on a CRT television. These little details create an undercurrent that feels off-kilter even before the monster enters their lives.

We’re seeing a lot of creepy, emotional works of horror in the last few years, and It Follows is one of the best of the lot. It avoids the usual pitfalls of teen centered horror and delivers something that is outrĂ© and at times beautiful. Its ambiguous finale resonates long after the film is over. It Follows is a strange little masterpiece, and one I think it is going to be very influential to future films. I highly recommend making time to see this movie.

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