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One of the scariest, most unsettling things that every person has to deal with is the fear of the inevitable. Whether it's something as small as an upcoming test or something as substantial as death, the inevitable is truly one of the most frightening things people have to deal with. Writer/director David Robert Mitchell tries to tap into those fears with his latest film, an indie horror entitled "It Follows," and the results are truly phenomenal.
The story follows Jay, a young college age girl who seems to be living a fairly comfortable life with her sister and mother in suburban Detroit. One night, she decides to go out with her new boyfriend Hugh and, after a night of debauchery in the back of a sedan, gets chloroformed and tied to a wheelchair where Hugh reveals a terrifying detail about his life. After a one night stand at a bar, Hugh began to be followed by a mysterious entity, one only visible to those who've been affected by the curse and able to take the form of any person at any given time. The entity always knows where the affected person is and will continue to walk towards them until they are reached and are able to take their life. The only way to temporarily avoid the entity is by having sex with another person, which will alleviate your struggle until that person is dead at the hands of the entity. Jay doesn't take this news too well, but now has to find a way to save herself while also finding a way to possibly stop this entity once and for all.
Being a horror movie in today's landscape is not easy. It seems like every month we get at least one or two horror films coming out that follow a pretty set formula. Loud noises, tons of gore and jump scares are the name of the game and while some films like "Cabin in the Woods" and the exquisite "You're Next" take the concept and flip it on its head, its still the same general formula. In a sense, maybe that's why "It Follows" succeeds in so many ways. It's simple, quiet and immersive story doesn't focus on loud noises or buckets of blood, but instead pulls at your nerves by focusing on the fear of the inevitable. You always see the entity coming and even if it's not on screen, you always know it's there in the back of your head. That, in an of itself, is more frightening than any ghost or demon popping out to grab you as the music surges.
As scary as it may be, it's Mitchell's directing and Mike Gioulakis' cinematography that really draw you in and make this film feel unique. The wide angled lenses, washed out, grainy colors and long, extended steadicam shots give this film an old-school 70s horror vibe and mixed with Disasterpeace's score, you'd almost believe this film was shot in the 70s and not 2014. The cranked up ambient noises and long synth notes give this film a feeling of dread without anything going on, in yet those same noises can be used to present a really sweet and touching moment all the same.
The acting from the main cast is fairly subdued, so there's not a lot to talk about in regards to it, but the performance of lead Maika Monroe as Jay was definitely the standout and if this film is anything to go off of, I see big things for her down the line.
When I go back and watch the horror movie staples of the late 70s and early 80s I always think about one thing: "Which is more frightening: the chase or the result?" Was it seeing a man in a mask chase down a hapless teenager or seeing that person killed in increasingly brutal ways. I don't know about you, but for me I always found the former to be much more terrifying. Maybe that's why this film resonated with me as much as it did because it took that exact fear and turned it into something great.
"It Follows" is a truly masterful horror film that preys on our deepest fears, and with a fantastically simple story and a decidedly old-school presentation, it feels like the missing 70s horror classic that everybody should have been talking about. If you love smart, thoughtful horror films that rely on building tension and creating a dense atmosphere of terror, than I can't recommend this film enough.
9.5 out of 10