Director: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe, Jake Weary, Daniel Zovatto
Running time: 100 minutes
Synopsis: Love is a dangerous game, but this is ridiculous! After “relations” with an seemingly nice guy, Jay (Monroe) finds herself stalked by a malevolent force and must find a way to shake off this deadly curse.
Horror and originality are distant bedfellows, for years the genre has been the refuge of the flat-pack film-maker; assembling the pre-fab facets of films that are as rickety as heck but, more or less, perform their basic function. IT FOLLOWS is a welcome break from the mediocrity; a spooky sleeper-hit already impressing critics, garnering a slew of award wins and nominations thanks to it’s indie sensibilities and new threat to fear.
IT FOLLOWS is essentially the story a sexually transmitted entity; you do the deed, you contract the curse and now It’s after you. Exactly what It is and where It came from, is anybodies guess. The film’s success lies in this lean and enigmatic premise, after contracting It, Jay (Monroe) and her band middle-American teen friends run from, investigate and finally face off against this sex-pest spectre. Fear is the unknown and it’s the unknown intentions of the mysterious assailant/s that draws the audience in. Whilst more creepy than scary there are some great jumps, moments of classic panic and suspense and a few good double bluffs, yet despite adhering to these staples of the genre, the originality of the premise keeps everything feeling fresh.
Crucial to the success of any film is believability and atmosphere. The young and largely unknown cast adds an authenticity to the proceedings with their unfamiliar faces and understated performances, whilst the film’s familiar suburban setting oozes the trappings of the teenage years. Hanging out with friends, dating, watching TV late at night, adolescence is sewn in to the fibers of every scene, blending GHOST WORLD with THE SIXTH SENSE and episodes of SCOOBY-DOO. Director Mitchell’s use of naturalistic lighting and sound really creates the visceral quality of summer nights drawing in to autumn, a time of change, much like the characters entering the dawn of their sexuality. Every part of this film is layered with rich details, nostalgia for youth and charged with an intense atmosphere of teen sexuality, heightened by a bristling synth soundtrack that would put John Carpenter to shame.
By keeping it’s premise simple IT FOLLOWS makes room for sub-textual themes that are the stuff of film students’ wet dreams. What is Sex? A mysterious primal compulsion, inherent in all of us (especially teens), relentlessly and inevitably stalking our minds day and night and now personified as a murderous entity. What is adulthood? With the film near devoid of parental figures our characters have entered the adult world via sex and must now deal with the perilous consequences of their actions. Or, maybe it’s just a sleek suburban horror that had the genius to turn sex in to the boogeyman? As clever as IT FOLLOWS may be on paper it is sure to split the crowd. Many will miss the high octane set-pieces, CG monsters, gore-porn and find the lack of a clear resolution bemusing, but pay attention and you’ll see the final open-ended scenes imply a sinister solution to our teen protagonists predicament.
IT FOLLOWS is sexy and smart and proves that an original idea executed on a budget goes far beyond any cash bloated, polished CG turd. Whilst the doors to Hollywood will no doubt be opening to writer/director David Robert Mitchell (or DaveBobMitch as THN is positing?), the film is sure to boost the ascent of Maika Monroe’s already rising star. IT FOLLOWS is an instant cult-classic, a sexually charged urban legend for a new generation and a must see for any horror fan or cinephile. Rubber-up and enjoy.
[usr=4] IT FOLLOWS opens in UK cinemas 27th February.