Movie Review: “It Follows” – You Won’t Feel Safe

Written by Jesse Gelinas April 15, 2015

It follows Jay through her school

I believe in the horror classics. John Carpenter, Wes Craven, George A Romero. These men created timeless pieces of pure unadulterated terror that have rippled throughout the decades, influencing wave after wave of respectful tributes and subpar ripoffs. Today, the horror genre has devolved into an endless cycle of gore, jump scares, and ridiculous musical spikes instructing you when to be afraid. In the last five years we’ve seen the same film remade five times trying to live up to the half decent ode to classic horror, “Insidious.” But this tiresome routine may finally be broken, or at the very least, heavily disrupted with the success of the new indie horror flick, “It Follows.” Having all the ingredients of those timeless classics, this little-movie-that-could hits all the right notes, without having to hold your hand throughout.

Jay is your average 19-year-old girl. She goes to college, hangs around with her sister and friends, and has a tendency to date the wrong guy. Her looks attract some unwanted attention, but that’s just a part of growing up. After a romantic date with the handsome Hugh, he and Jay have sex in his car out in the middle of nowhere. Subdued in the afterglow, Jay is knocked out by Hugh and tied to a chair to listen to his sad news. Their little encounter has infected her with a curse. Something is going to follow her. It might be anywhere, and look like anyone, but it is somewhere, coming for her. No one can help because no one can see it but her. All she can do is run, or pass along to someone else, buying more time until it makes its way down the chain of victims.

“Don’t let it touch you.”

The best choice by David R Mitchell was the decision to keep “it” vague and mysterious. It doesn’t have a name. It doesn’t have a motive, or an agenda. It doesn’t even have a real face. But it’s somewhere out there, and it knows where you are, and it will get to you eventually, one way or the other. The creature (if we can call it that) is presented as an intangible, invisible, unstoppable force of nature. The number of “scares” in the film is actually relatively low. Not that the film isn’t scary, but it doesn’t reply on sudden, frantic jump-scares. The entire film holds an eerie, creepy tone throughout, and never lets you feel at ease. You can’t feel safe for a moment, because it could be right around the corner, or coming at you from across the street.

It Follows Jay into her house

Everything about the film comes together perfectly. For an indie film with no big-name actors, the characters are well-developed and portrayed realistically. These aren’t 30-year-old superheroes playing teenagers. These are scared teenagers playing scared teenagers, reacting to this new threat with the same fear and uncertainty they face their blossoming sexuality with, and all the consequences that come with it (supernatural or otherwise). Where the film truly shines is its soundtrack. Disasterpiece’s score is loud, dominating, and memorable. It’s also tense, and at times frightening. Reminiscent of old John Carpenter scores (“Halloween,” “The Thing”) the music serves to keep the audience off balance, and keep them in mind of the classics that inspired it.

“Sometimes I think it looks like the people you love, just to hurt you.”

The symbolism and allegory is rampant in “It Follows.” The temptation to liken the creature with an STD like AIDS is strong, but it goes deeper than that. Young sexuality and promiscuity is explored, presented genuinely, but never shoved in your face with some black and white morality sermon. Even the creature’s killings have a strong sexual aspect to them, which leads to a couple rather disturbing and shocking scenes. It could also be a stand-in simply for the pressures that are set upon young men and women who recently explore their sexuality, and the feeling of obligation to continue in order to fit in. This is all speculation of course. In the end, “It Follows” is a horror film, and it is scary as hell.

It Follows Jay and Hugh

All in all, “It Follows” is a refreshingly terrifying return to the golden age of horror. Michael Myers, Freddie Krueger, The Thing; all would be proud of the masterpiece their respective stories have inspired. The terror is real. The mystery is real. The sense of helplessness and unease is constant and overwhelming. When the film is over you’ll find yourself looking over your shoulder, eyeing the man across the street or down the hall. You never know until it’s too late.It doesn’t think. It doesn’t feel. It doesn’t give up. It follows. And it might be following you.

My Rating: 9/10

It Follows retro poster

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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