It doesn't think. It doesn't feel. It doesn't give up.
What it is: It Follows
Which is: An horror/thriller indie film
Which is: An horror/thriller indie film
Directed by: David Robert Mitchell
Filmed by director and writer David Robert Mitchell, It Follows is a low-budget independent horror film. It stars a bunch of young newcomers Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe and Bailey Spry (and basically no adults on film). The film first played at the Cannes festival back in March 2014 before getting a proper release last year in March 2015 thanks to RADiUS-TWC.
The story revolves around this college student that one day gets a curse after a sexual encounter with some guy. She finds herself constantly pursued by some mysterious entity. She tries to come up with a plan with her friends to escape this "thing"...
What's Good about it: It Follows is modern horror film, with a very recent aesthetic and visual that is yet very reminiscent of 80s horror films.
The film has great atmosphere and tension, reminding me of some of the best horror storytellers such as Stanley Kubrick and John Carpenter. And these praises don't come lightly, but David Robert Mitchell made a phenomenal work here. With a smart use of the camera work, putting the viewer directly in the picture alongside these characters.
Let's say it right away, It Follows has a very good set up and concept.
The film doesn't even need to succumb to the cheap use of gore for that. It's closer to a thriller with touches of urban horror (which also reminded me of the original Candyman on that regard).
The story here is some pretty great classic-style horror.
"It" - whatever that is - has a lot of presence on film, as you start to notice "it" in several instances of the background and several longer shots.
The premise takes some of the good elements of classic 80s horror films from John Carpenter's Halloween to Nightmare on Elm Street, heck, even Friday the 13th. Like a good inventive tribute to the genre. And unlike some of the later sequels of those films, this actually makes the genre proud and bring some new ideas to the table. It's a smart horror film.
The film's biggest strength is that the execution feels genuinely fresh and original.
The idea itself is nothing new, this is not the first horror film to revolve around a mysterious supernatural entity chasing people. It's a very common fear, just the idea of being followed. It's anxiety put to film. It feels like a living nightmare.
The threat here is something calmly following you, which comes a lot more terrifying that something simply chasing you, running. A gorgeous 360 degree-sequence beautifully illustrate this in a scene at the school.
The "creature" here is never truly explained, which adds a lot to the mystery and horror. "It's" something that can take on various appearances and shapes, some familiar and others just frightening.
The film simply looks great, with great visuals and shots, for such a modest budget.
The use of wide-angle lenses make these shots pop up on screen. The picture is very much inspired by the works of George Romero and John Carpenter.
It Follows was entirely filmed in Detroit, a city that just oozes personality on screen. It can be quite a scary place!
The lore behind the "curse" appears to be a lot more inspired by Japanese horror films, I'd say. That's maybe the reason why it was a big departure from recent horror films. In fact I would say, you could make a few minor changes to the film and you would have here the best Silent Hill movie adaptation yet.
The story offers itself very easily ti various interpretations. From a coming of age tale, a story about leaving your childhood behind into adulthood to a parallel with sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS.
Finally the music is a masterpiece in itself, composed by musician Richard Vreeland best known under the name Disasterpeace. He's a chiptune artist who is mostly known for composing the soundtrack for the game Fez. He did an aabsolutely gorgeous score for the film, one of the best I've heard in years. Heavily inspired by old school horror films, most notably Carpenter's musical scores. It's pretty creepy tense music that perfectly captures "fear".
What's Bad about it: The creature of It Follows remains a pretty mysterious figure through the film, and I know modern audiences love to get explanations for everything these days. So it might not be your cup of tea depending where you stand with stuff like this.
There's a few holes in this concept which can only be explained if you accept the whole living nightmare-interpretation of the film.
I also found the time "it" took the shape of a kid at the beach a bit weak compared to any of the other instances. The acting of the kid and the reason for his actions a bit too frantic, it didn't work as well as if "it" simply took the shape of the friend that stayed outside.
Like i said, the idea itself is nothing new, in fact it's fairly similar to the old 1981 classic The Entity.
And finally the whole plan to kill "it" at the end felt pretty weak compared to the rest of the film. Not only the entire scene but also the whole execution the characters try to came up with. This pool sequence plays a bit cheap. The director seemed to allude to something bigger for the final act... and all we get is this big Scooby-Doo finale? The film didn't need a final fight scene, it felt a bit dumb compared to the rest of the film, why would they think this plan would even work if bullets didn't stop "it"? Maybe earlier in the film it would have made more sense, but as a finale it didn't fit the atmosphere of the rest of the film.
Overall: Despite all these criticisms, It Follows is a masterpiece in my eyes. It's a modern classical horror, a mesmerizing exercise in minimalist horror.
It's a very good, smart and unique horror film. Between Hollywood taking over the genre with bad remakes, adaptations and sequels and smaller productions going for the easier torture porn, found footage and cheap jump scares, It Follows felt like a breath of fresh air in comparison. It's a pretty strong and stylish horror film, with a great terrifying tension. It's slower and true to the classics.
It's a pretty simple film when you get down to it, but where it truly shines best is in its fantastic atmosphere. This comes Highly Recommended for any fans and newcomers to the genre!
Sadly, producers at Radius-TWC are already looking into the idea of a sequel. I can imagine the studios will try making another one without anyone from the crew of the original film on board, like they also ruined Donnie Darko. They'll probably try to explain the identity of "it", go back looking where the curse started the chain or something stupid like that... Sigh...
I give it: 3 / 3!