Wesley Emblidge ‘17 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Movies Editor
If you look at some of the best horror movies of the past few years, there’s a common link. Last year’s The Babadook, 2012’s You’re Next and Sinister, and more were very low-budget, while other big-budget horror remakes like Carrie or Fright Night can’t deliver a fraction of those scares. Indie directors know how to do a lot with a little, and when it comes to horror sometimes keeping things small is for the best. It Follows joins this trend, making the most of suburban homes and streets in an examination of teenage sexuality and development.
The setup here is actually very simple. The monster of It Follows is, essentially, an STD. When Joy (Maika Monroe of The Guest and The Bling Ring) sleeps with Hugh (Jake Weary), he passes to her the unnamed monster. He lays out the rules to her: it can look like anyone, it is always following you, and if it catches and kills Joy, it’ll go after Hugh again, and then the girl who passed it to him, and so on. There’s a lot more to discover about the monster, and that’s a big part of the fun in the film. But don’t let that confuse you, It Follows is a harrowing look at how Joy is wrecked by her situation, and she quickly loses any youthful innocence she had in the first frames, as she and her friends have to fight off the monster.
Writer/director David Robert Mitchell is no stranger to high school stories. His 2011 debut The Myth of the American Sleepover was an ensemble drama set over one night in a small town, and though that was a mildly impressive effort, It Follows marks Mitchell as a major talent who will be a real force to reckon with in Hollywood for years to come. From the opening shot you sense the extreme control he has over his camera, and throughout he wows with some long 360-degree shots and generates extreme tension in every frame. He loses his footing here and there (some of the cast isn’t great and the synth-heavy music can be really overbearing at times) but a lesser director could have turned his screenplay into generic horror dreck. So, when you’re looking to get scared at the movies this spring, skip the third Insidious or the remake of Poltergeist and head to your local art house theater for It Follows.
Overall Grade: B+