I keep hearing that there is a kind of generational breakdown in the reaction to It Follows. The conventional wisdom appears to be that “the kids” don’t like it very much because they think it’s too slow and doesn’t have enough in the way of jump scares and gore. On the other hand, adults seem to be really liking it, for pretty much exactly the same reasons.
Of course, there are exceptions to this, just as there are to any generalization about who will and who won’t like any particular movie, but I can completely get on board with this one.
That’s not to say that the movie doesn’t have its moments of shock. Obviously it has to, otherwise it wouldn’t fit into the horror genre, but the movie doles them out sparingly and appropriately in a way that leads to a very tense and smart climax.
If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you’re already familiar with the basic idea that drives the story. A teenage girl has sex with a guy she barely knows who afterwards insists that he has passed to her a supernatural stalker who will implacably follow her until it eventually kills her, and the only way to survive is to pass it on to someone else by having sex with them. Unfortunately, this actually only delays things, because once it has killed the person it has been passed to, the “follower” reverts to stalking the person back down the line. In other words, the danger is always there, and you can never really get rid of it, instead all you can hope for is some respite from the constant dread and looking over your shoulder.
For fear of giving away too much, I don’t want to write about any more of the plot, because there are a number of twiststhe film takes that, while perhaps not surprising, are definitely worth not knowing until you’re actually in the theater and watching them play out.
Much like my other favorite recent horror film The Babadook takes its PTSD metaphor and runs with it, It Follows definitely makes the most of its own STD theme and owns it completely. And, while the ending of this film may not have quite the same level of ambiguity of Babdook‘s final scene, I will say that I can understand why there have been a few complaints that the end of the film may not completely satisfy, but it seems, in my opinion at least, much like the former film, completely appropriate to what has come before.
Two things that I want to draw special attention to before I close. While this isn’t her first film, Maika Monroe, who plays lead girl Jay Height definitely proves herself capable of carrying this film, turning what could easily have been a simple “scream queen” role into something much deeper. Indeed, the entire cast does an excellent job of interpreting and bringing to life writer and director David Roger Mitchell’s script. Secondly, the score and sound design for this film does an excellent job of underscoring what is going on onscreen at just the right moment, and setting the tone throughout. Yes, this is something you may note that I also mentioned in my recent review of Unfriended. What can I say? Sound editors seem to be having a good year so far.
It also seems like so far 2015 has been a good year for small, smart, subversive horror flicks, and this is a trend that I’m happy to see and hope will continue throughout the year. Yeah, there a a huge number of big-budget blockbusters coming out this year that are going to completely overshadow these smaller movies, but its comforting to know that there are other effective quality films – and not just in the horror genre – that are out right now if one will just take the time to look beyond the huge box-office attention grabbers and give them a try.