I lost faith in Horror movies (mainstream anyway) over the last few years with bullshit being released that somehow gets green lit by studios like Insidious, Paranormal Activity, Annabelle, Sacrament, Tusk, Oculus...you get the idea. I grew up on Horror and take it seriously so yeah I'm a tough critic so ill admit this one revived faith in me to remain optimistic still towards my beloved genre. Lets get into it...
At a runtime of 1 hour and 34 minutes, second time director DAVID ROBERT MITCHELL nails it with his fresh visionary delivery of IT FOLLOWS. Its important to note that as of right now Rotten Tomatoes has this sitting at a very rare 95% with even some critics claiming it was too much for them to take in. Thats high praise!
Ok so whats this movie about you ask? Stay with me on this...a girl has consensual sex with a guy in his car in a secluded area. The guy then makes her pass out and she awakes tied to a chair in a isolated nearby structure. He assures her he isn't going to hurt her but that he passed something onto her that he got from someone else that will follow her and him until she passes it on to someone herself. The entity that follows can be someone you know or a complete stranger but if you let it get too close to you then you will die and then it will comeback to the original person as well unless its passed on already. After he forces her to see 'it' as she remains strapped to the chair before it can actually get her or him, he escapes with her and drops her off at her house in front of her friends who had been on the porch hanging out then speeds off. They of course run to her side to help since she's obviously distraught from what she just went through and saw. No one believes her of course, not yet anyway. Now its her struggle of making sense of all this as its a constant array of fear and paranoia as she must deal with the 'curse' that's been brought onto her and if she should try to pass it on to another unfortunate individual before her own time is up.
A simple yet solid plot here but don't let the whole 'curse' aspect throw you into thinking this is just another generic redbox flick. I didnt say this was 100% original or flawless but damn if its not effective. Trust me.
What sells it? Its 3 things: cast, cinematography and the score. The cast is all fresh faces, no big names here and its welcomed. You aren't distracted looking at the actors, you're looking at the characters and the development for them was easily perceived as being believable. Not once did i eye roll at any wooden dialogue or under/overacting as there were none of these elements here thankfully to cause that. The cinematography displayed here was very well used with the perfect mood and tone to establish the bleak sometimes grimy visual appeal that the movie benefits from beautifully. The shots are clean and crisp, the focus work is used brilliantly at times and the editing is top notch. No quick jumbled cuts that detour you from focusing on whats unfolding on screen. You get what you see and whats to be seen is the unknown and perhaps thats the scariest part of it all. Now lets talk about what I'm most giddy about...the score. Oh the amazing 80's synth panic inducing, heartbeat rising score...i downloaded the score as soon as i got home. I am listening to it right now as i write this (nerd alert). If it wasn't for the score then the film wouldn't have been as effective, i think the director will back that up as well. It makes the movie as almost every scene is drenched in melodic suspense that at times will raise the hairs on the back of your neck. Think back to Maniac (80s cult slasher). Its not for everyone but those who don't fear it will embrace it.
There's so much more i wish to reveal but its hard to not give any spoilers away. Ill say this. This isn't going to be for everyone. Ones that think the Saw franchise is the best thing ever will probably hate this. Its not heavy on gore and didn't need to be. This is a slow burner for those who truly appreciate traditional horror, american horror at that. We are so quick in this town to put out rushed content that we think will make money and in return we lack or ignore the actual quality in that content and the fans suffer. Thats not fair and I'm more than pleased to say i personally think this is a small but important break we are getting finally in the right direction of where horror needs to be, especially in mainstream.
That being said this isn't a huge studio movie and its only playing in limited theaters across the country. LA and NYC more importantly so if you find yourself lucky then go witness this at your local theatre for the best experience (list here: http://itfollowsfilm.com/screenings) as i do not know how effective it will be on the small screen but for those who cant make it out, it does arrive on VOD on March 27th. Enjoy!