It Follows

Director: David Robert Mitchell.
Screenplay: David Robert Mitchell.
Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Jake Weary, Daniel Zovatto, Deborah Williams, Ele Bardha, Bailey Spry.

“It could look like someone you know or it could be a stranger in a crowd. Whatever helps it get close to you”

Too often with contemporary horror films we are subjected to a barrage of positive claims. Claims that the most recent one is the best for decades. It almost seems like audiences and critics are desperate for it to actually be the case, such is the lack of any true quality in a failing genre and the desperate demand to be spooked again. Sooner or later, though, one had to arrive where the positivity surrounding it would be genuine. Finally, we have It Follows: a film thatΒ can confidently stake it’s claim for being that coveted frightener.

After a sexual encounter, 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe) is told that she will then be followed by a presence – someone or something – determined to kill her. The only way it’ll stop is if she has another sexual encounter where she can pass it on. Initially, she’s doubtful but soon enough the disturbing visions begin…If you’re ever in any doubt that you’re being stalked by a malevolent force of some kind, then it’s probably best to steer clear of the old rumpy-pumpy. Going by the usual horror tropes, when someone butters the muffin it inevitably leads to their demise. And by that, director David Robert Mitchell cleverly bases his entire horror concept around that promiscuous premise.What works in It Follows‘ favour is it’s homage to films of old – namely, John Carpenter’s Halloween. If you consider Carpenter’s depiction of Michael Myers, you’ll notice that he works slowly and never in a rush to fulfil his murderous intent. That’s very much like the entity in this; there’s a self-assurance in it’s unrelenting pursuit. The setting also takes place in a similar leafy suburban neighbourhood and our protagonist goes by the name of Jay (short for Jamie) – a direct tribute to Halloween‘s afflicted heroine, Jamie Lee Curtis. Even Rich Vreeland’s scaled down music echoes Carpenter’s classic synthesised score.You could actually spend some time identifying the previous horrors that Mitchell riffs on but that would detract from his own work and his ability to put his own stamp on the proceedings. His decision to shoot with a sombre mood and deliberate pace adds to the overall foreboding atmosphere and allows us to effortlessly enter into any given moment. This works the same in identifying with the characters. Their plight and struggle is all the more involving because it feels like we are getting a glimpse into their lives. It also helps that the cast is headed by reliable, and relatively unknown, faces and as the characters are in their teens, the film works as both an urban-legend horror and a dark coming-of-age tale. Their progression to adulthood and their promiscuity also sets up a clever sub-text that courses through the film in terms of sexually transmitted diseases: a reminiscent 80’s setting suggesting the AIDS epidemic, in particular, and channels the deadly nature of that disease as it’s psychological device.

Mitchell’s real trump card, however, comes from his use of space and setting up his shots. The background plays a major part in the film as you never know at which moment “It” might make an appearance, leaving you to regularly scan the whole frame for any movement.There’s an undoubted ambiguity to Mitchell’s film and while some may balk at this I, personally, welcomed it as it added another thought provoking layer. It works on many levels. If you’re so inclined, you can adopt a metaphorical approach to the proceedings and delve into it’s deeper meanings. But then again, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, right? If your not the type of viewer that wishes to explore the metaphors and just want to be entertained then the film can still be enjoyed at face value and works as a chilling and effective horror yarn, nonetheless.In only his second film (the first being The Myth of the American Sleepover in 2010) there’s no denying David Robert Mitchell’s commanding handling of events and his ability to stage a real sense of uneasiness. It’s an impressive sophomore effort that has given the horror genre a much needed shot in the arm by delivering substantial terrors and retaining a sincerity in its delivery.Mark Walker

Trivia: Following overwhelmingly positive first weekend reception from critics and audiences, the film’s originally-planned VOD/theatrical release was cancelled in favor of a theatrical-only release.


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59 Responses to “It Follows”

  1. It’s a good one, alright. An interesting use of STDs as a horror theme. Fine review, Mark.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Michael. Using the STD angle is a stroke of genius. It allows Mitchell to, not only, reference the tropes of past horrors but to build his whole film around one. Very clever and very well delivered.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome as usual, Mark. I like this new twist–first the monster in The Babadook was grief. Now we have STD as the monster. I appreciate the symbolism.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nice review Mark. While I loved the atmosphere of It Follows, the plot seemed kind of a mess to me. Jay’s decision making felt unrealistic and during multiple parts of the picture I wanted to yell at her for recklessly endangering herself. It’s not a bad film but I don’t see it as the modern day horror classic most people are making it out to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! You sound like I often do when a new horror is claimed as a modern classic, Charles. πŸ˜‰
      I know exactly how you feel. That said, It Follows was one that really worked for me. It’s not perfect and I did find flaws but I found it to be quite cleverly constructed and the biggest plus point was that it stayed me for days afterwards. I’ve not had a horror do that to me for a while.

      A modern classic? Probably not. But I still found it to be a satisfying addition to a genre that seriously failing us these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Great work ya great plonker.

    πŸ˜‰

    This movie is freaking excellent, but I will admit the thing I’m remembering most about it (and most fondly) is its haunting soundtrack. So cool and unique. But this has a lot of other things going for it as well, namely restraint. So nice to see someone using it as well as James Wan did in The Conjuring. There’s hope for this genre yet!

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    • Haha! Thank you (on both accounts) I’ve been called much worse. πŸ™‚

      With you here, though, man. A solid little flick. The music was great, the way it was shot was superb and, yes, the restraint does really add to believability of the whole thing. I enjoyed a lot about The Conjuring but still left it a bit disappointed after a strong start. This is a different type of horror for me and the restraint here worked far more effectively. Despite some minor flaws, it’s the best I’ve seen from recent horror flicks!

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  5. Great review! There’s a lot positive reviews on It Follows and I ended up enjoying it. But I didn’t love it as much as others who are putting it among their top films on the year. A great premise for a horror movie though and well worth checking out.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m with you on this Mark, one of the better horror films to amble its way into cinemas over the last few years. Great review mate.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Didn’t like this movie quite as much as you did, but it was a lot of fun. I thought it kind of ran out of gas in its second half, but the first half was pretty awesome. Nice review.

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  8. Glad you liked it Mark. One of the best of the year for me.

    Have you seen The Babadook? The hype around that one is real too. And its Aussie πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have seen The Babadook but if truth be told I wasn’t sold on the payoff. Beautifully shot and acted but it’s one where I wasn’t prepared for the direction it took. Worthy of a revisit, though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I thought the last act was on par with the last act of Rosemary’s Baby! πŸ˜›

        I didn’t like the ending but that didn’t stop me from buying it. Definitely worth a revisit mate. And you know deep down that Aussie films are the best πŸ˜›

        Liked by 1 person

      • Rosemary’s Baby? That’s high praise indeed, sir. That’s a classic you’re talking here. I’ll definitely consider your thoughts when I do revisit it. As for Aussie flicks, I’m mightily impressed with your output these days. No doubt about that. But surely the Scots are leading the way in their cinematic output?! πŸ˜‰

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      • I don’t think I have seen a Scottish film, now that I think about it. Any recommendations?

        High praise indeed but the way the main character loses her mind in the last act… not as good as Rosemary’s Baby but damned close I thought! I thought the mother was the scariest thing about that movie.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I jest in terms of Scottish output but I always have a soft spot for them as I can identify more with them. Probably the same with yourself and an Aussie flick. I suppose there’s a grey area in terms of a film being called British or Scottish but the likes of Trainspotting, Filth, My Name is Joe, The Angels’ Share and Dear Frankie are all fine Scottish movies in my eyes! There’s actually quite a few to choose from but it tends to be the same faces involved. I’m really looking forward to Robert Carlyle’s directorial debut The Legend of Barney Thomson but I missed it in theatres.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ahh I missed that Barney Thompson movie too! It was playing at a British Film Fest and I bloody missed it. I’ll have to keep an eye out and see if it gets a regular release, it apparently sold a ton of tickets

        I love Trainspotting, and Filth is movie I have been meaning to see for a while. I think I’ll add it to The List πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      • Trainspotting is one of my favourite films, man. Supposedly Danny Boyle and the rest of the cast are getting together do the sequel “Porno” but it’s taking some time. As for Barney Thomson, once that left theatres it just disappeared. I can’t seem to track it down at all.

        Liked by 1 person

      • It sounded like a great film too. Hopefully a DVD release surfaces soon.

        A sequel called Porno eh? A sequel how? And same here man, with my history of painkiller abuse that movie really hits me hard. Especially the part where he detoxes and sees the baby on the roof. Brings back some harsh memories!

        Liked by 1 person

      • A hard-hitting film, for sure, and a great adaptation of a supposedly unfilmable book. In fact, I done a little Scottish review of it once and the author Irvine Welsh actually stopped by to read. πŸ™‚
        “Porno” was Welsh’s follow-up. It’s all the same characters and set about 10 years later. Added to which, he also wrote a prequel called “Skagboys” that follows all the characters before heroin comes on the scene. Great books!

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      • I’ll have to check out some of his books, I loved Trainspotting. Gotta get my hands on a copy of Filth (the movie) some time soon, I first read about it ages ago and liked the sound of it

        Liked by 1 person

      • You might find Welsh’a prose a hard read, to be honest. He writes in an Edinburgh dialect that can be very difficult to understand at times. Definitely check out Filth the movie, though. James McAvoy is tremendous. On a par with DiCaprio in Wolf of Wall Street

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve heard McAvoy is great in it. So when you say he writes in an Edinburgh dialect… do you mean there would be slang I wouldn’t understand?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, the slang is pretty full on as he writes in his own native tongue. I’m actually from Glasgow so even the Edinburgh slang is different from my own.

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      • hmm, interesting stuff. Now I wanna watch Trainspotting for the umpteenth time πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ha! I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve seen that. It never gets old for me, though. I love it!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Me too πŸ˜€

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I’m surprised there have been quite a few comments where people are ambivalent towards this film; I thought it was really good, as you know, and I’d happily stick that ‘best horror in ages’ tag on it if I actually watched enough of them to say it with confidence. And ‘buttering the muffin’ isn’t one I’ve come across before. Sounds like something Dick Van Dyke would do in Mary Poppins: “Cam on Misses Poppins, ah’ve been dyin’ ta butter yer muffin”.

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  10. Wonderful review dude. The themes of it sound particularly intriguing and the old school vibe very promising.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, excellent review. One of the best films of the year – this and Bone Tomahawk prove there can still be so much originality in the horror genre. Glad you liked it too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers Sati! Happy to hear you’re a fan also. It’s a solid horror and a pleasure to come across a recent one that doesn’t disppoint. Bone Tomahawk is one I still need to catch up with. I’ve heard nothing but positives surrounding that.

      Like

  12. Great review! I liked this one a lot. It gives me hope for future horror films. Too bad it won Shitfest! Lol πŸ™‚

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  13. I also loved this for many of the same reasons you give, here. And yes, I don’t think it should have been a Shitfest entry, but that particular review was hilarious, so be it. Doesn’t detract from my enjoyment, though. My own review:

    http://dellonmovies.blogspot.com/2015/10/it-follows.html

    Like

    • I need to go back and have a look at that Shitfest one. I’m interested to hear why this is the winner. I thought this was a great little flick. I’ll swing by on your thoughts too, Dell. Cheers!

      Like

  14. I loved this film; one of my favourites of the year. I’m a big John Carpenter fan, so you can imagine why I loved this so much. It’s such a lovingly crafted flick, made by someone with a real grasp of the genre.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m a big Carpenter fan too, man. After recently revisiting Halloween, the homages really stood out for me in It Follows. It’s an impressive contemporary horror and, like you say, it shows that David Robert Mitchell had been doing his homework on the genre.

      Like

  15. I enjoyed this. but was more lukewarm than the raves it received. Goodnight Mommy was the best horror film I saw in 2015.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really took to this one, especially after a recent revisit to Carpenter’s Halloween.
      I eventually caught up with Goodnight Mommy too but I have to say that I wasn’t as impressed as I thought I’d be. It had a great ending, though. One I didn’t see coming.

      Like

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