There may not be a sensation on the spectrum of human emotion creepier than the feeling that you’re being followed. While walking home after seeing It Follows, I had a minor panic attack on the street as I kept looking over my shoulder to find the same man walking directly behind me. The rational thought would have been, “Right, because that’s how sidewalks work.” Instead, my mind was saying, “I hope he doesn’t do weird stuff to my body after he murders me.” So if you enjoy the excitability that comes with imminent death, then this movie is for you.
It Follows is a supernatural horror movie about an entity that pursues teenagers after they’ve had sex. That may sound like the kind of movie where women become nothing more than busty demon fodder, but the film is actually an intelligent play on the “have sex and die” trope popularized by horror movies of the late ’70s and ’80s. Here, the sex is brief and nudity-free, and when boobies and dongs do show up, it’s actually unsettling. So mouthbreathers who read the IMDb plot synopsis and watch the movie expecting lots of objectified and mutilated women will probably leave disappointed.
As part of the recent revival of slow-burning, minimalist style of horror in the school of John Carpenter, It Follows might be the best. What’s truly striking about the film is how timeless it feels, due in large part to its deliberate exclusion of references, technology, clothing or other paraphernalia that places the narrative in a particular moment in time. Just as impactful is where the film is set: an unnamed Detroit suburb. The imagery of quiet, quaint streets juxtaposed against the dilapidated buildings and creepy emptiness of the city proper is jarring.
Jump scares are used sparingly (but effectively), so the real fright comes from gradual escalation of the stakes and the constant threat of danger. The score is excellent as well — heavy on the synthesizers, punctuated by staccato clashes to build tension along with the action on the screen. The movie loses steam in the third act, but it redeems itself with its perfect ominous ending.
Horror as a genre has mercifully shied away from the torture porn of recent years in favor of more atmospheric, intelligent and self-aware filmmaking. For a while there it seemed like we had nothing but Saw movies and crappy Japanese remakes rolling through multiplexes. For me, It Follows joins the ranks of The Babadook, The Cabin In The Woods, and a few others in the elite class of modern horror. Every genre aficionado owes it to his/herself to get their butt into a theater seat to see and support this fantastic movie.