We’re back, with another creepy collection of cinematic terror, past and present, in print and podcast form. To start our morbid month-long countdown to Halloween, we have one of the most discussed horror films of the previous year. It Follows revisits the slasher genre, giving it a supernatural twist, meta-conventions, and beautifully eerie cinematography.
See a lugubrious listing of our full, foul countdown, after the review:
Title: It Follows
Cast, Crew, and Other Info:
Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell
Maika Monroe as Jaime “Jay” Height
Keir Gilchrist as Paul
Lili Sepe as Kelly Height
Olivia Luccardi as Yara
Daniel Zovatto as Greg Hannigan
Jake Weary as Jeff Redmond / Hugh
Debbie Williams as Mrs. Height
Ele Bardha as Mr. Height
Bailey Spry as Annie
Ruby Harris as Mrs. Redmond
Leisa Pulido as Mrs. Hannigan
Ingrid Mortimer, Alexyss Spradlin, Mike Lanier, Don Hails, and Erin Stone as It
A woman runs in fear. She calls home and leaves a distressed message.
We see her the next morning, horribly murdered.
Another young woman, Jay, goes on a date with a handsome, slightly older man. They later have sex in a car near some picturesque ruins. Then he chloroforms her, ties her to a chair, and points out a figure stalking her, slowly, nearby. The demonic entity, he claims, will stalks the young woman. A way exists, however, to push her further down the line of victims. Her friends get drawn in as she tries to convince them she is sane, and that they must somehow save her life.
The premise is more than a little ridiculous. What follows is not.
1. Rarely has a horror movie been filmed so exquisitely. The tale of young people being stalked by evil features many perfectly-framed widescreen shots, of suburban homes and urban blight. The camera pans around its found, eerily-lit locations. It’s a slasher for the art-house crowd.
2. It Follows makes the slasher genre fresh and disturbing, in part, by recontextualizing its worn conventions. We get the endangered blonde, the sexually-active victims, the slow-moving killer, the stalker’s point-of-view shots, the comparatively absent parents, the flight to an isolated location, and the stark soundtrack. However, the movie twists these to its own ends. The actors are too old to be teens—but, in fact, most play post-high-school young adults. Their flight to a desolate location where, one would imagine, they’ll be more likely to die, actually makes sense. The targeting of. specifically, sexually active young people forms part of the film’s metaphor, which remains open to interpretation and discussion.
The eleventh-hour attempt to kill the creature seems designed to both fail and backfire. The characters have already seen that it does not succumb to certain methods that would be deadly to humans, and their trap gives it additional weapons.
Originality: 3/6 The film consciously uses existing horror tropes, twisting them for its own ends. It’s about the only way a film of this nature can be original anymore.
Effects: 4/6 It Follows features only a few effects, but it uses them effectively and wisely. The visual style also counts as an effect, and helps create the film’s eerie and unreal ambiance.
Story: 4/6 The story will draw you in, but it’s not without its flaws. The final act seems especially wonky, in terms of the choices made and the obligatory ambiguities.
Acting: 5/6 The film features a strong, natural cast, led by the talented Maika Monroe.
Production: 6/6 Mitchell and crew go to great lengths to create a stylized world in which their bizarre story makes a kind of nightmarish sense. One character uses an e-reader, though one of a design unique to the movie. Otherwise, we see no evidence of the internet, cell phones, or even home computers. The costumes, cars, props, and sets generally reflect the 70s and 80s, though aspects of earlier and later decades may be found. Televisions are old-fashioned boxes with antennae and principally broadcast black and white B movies. Filming takes place in and around Detroit, both in older neighbourhoods with vintage houses and abandoned strips with derelict buildings. We’re in a sort of redacted late twentieth century.
Emotional Response: 5/6 While It Follows does not eschew jump scares, it relies more on creating a sense of creeping dread that gradually affects the viewer’s brain.
Overall: 5/6 Given the references to sexuality and mortality, It Follows the film will be open to many interpretations. Is it about STDs? The fear of intimate relationships, so common in our wired world? Death? Or just general, creeping fear of what might be out there?
In total, It Follows receives 32/42.
Halloween Countdown 2015
Oct. 3: It Follows (2015)
Podcast: The Thing From Another World (1951)
Oct. 10: Kuroneko (1968)
Podcast: Alien 3 (1992)
Oct 17: Dracula Prince of Darkness (1966)
Podcast: Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1970)
Oct. 24: Crimson Peak (2015)
Podcast: The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Babadook (2014)
Podcast: Event Horizon (1997)