**** (out of 5)
March 27, 2015
Maika Monroe as JAY HEIGHT
Lili Sepe as KELLY HEIGHT
Olivia Luccardi as YARA
Keir Gilchrist as PAUL
Jake Weary as HUGH/JEFF
Daniel Zovatto as GREG HANNIGAN
Directed by: David Robert Mitchell
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
Few genres of films reinvent themselves as much as horror does, and in the midst of all this, the genre changes often become cyclical, discovering elements that worked in the past. Fortunately, the fads of found footage, torture porn and the horse race to make the most offensive movie ever have burned out a bit, and young horror directors are finding new ways to tell their stories.
I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, and while I was too young to experience the whole of horror movies during those decades, thanks to the wonder of VHS tape, I was able to catch up on a lot of it in my high school years.
“It Follows” has its roots in the horror movies of the 70s and 80s, drawing a lot of inspiration from John Carpenter and other films that use real suspense rather than simple exploitative splatter and skin. That’s not to say that “It Follows” is a squeaky-clean film. It has sex and violence in it, and the sexual aspect of it is tied explicitly to the terror, but it’s all necessary.
The story follows a young woman who has sex with her new boyfriend. However, after the act, he ties her up and explains to her that he has passed along a curse. There is a malevolent entity that will now follow her relentlessly and try to kill her. It does not move fast, but it will not stop, and it will eventually catch up to her. The only way out of it is to pass the curse along to someone else. Once she discovers the entity is real, she has to find a way to survive and keep her friends and family safe, all the while continually questioning whether all of this is real.
The use of sexuality in this film is actually quite brilliant. Rather than the somewhat obvious use of 80s slasher films in which killers are likeliest to kill the teenagers having taboo sexual relations, “It Follows” uses modern sexual promiscuity as the dangerous link among victims. This preys on the audience’s fear of sexuality, both in the taboo sense of keeping things private but also striking a chord with the fear of deadly sexually transmitted diseases. In essence we have the symbolic fear that one intimate mistake can follow you around for the rest of your life, reveal what you’ve done and eventually kill you.
But even when you strip away the subtext and symbolism, “It Follows” is just a genuinely creepy movie. It has a great pace, and it takes its time while it builds tension. The entity that follows the characters is very effectively done with some great casting and cinematography, and the result is a selection of disturbing imagery.
Supporting the film is a fantastic throwback electronic soundtrack, which seems to be in vogue right now. While some might find these soundtracks to be a little wearing or cliche by now (as they have really exploded onto the independent scene after “Beyond the Black Rainbow” and “Tron: Legacy” made them legitimate again), but I find them endearing. Again, this is a remnant of my days of watching horror movies in the 1980s, when the electronic soundtrack took over Hollywood.
If you are at all a fan of horror movies, seek out “It Follows.” Don’t expect it to be an overtly scary movie. We’re not looking for audiences jumping like we see in the overused advertisements for the “Paranormal Activity” series. Instead, we’re looking for a true appreciation of a creepy film that gets into your head and has a lot of fun doing it in the process.