The best horror movies usually explore deeper questions than what’s on the surface. It’s not the monster that’s scary. It’s what the monster represents. For example, “The Exorcist” explored questions of faith and parenthood. “Carrie” delved into the effects of high school cruelty. “Jaws” used the undercurrent of a rogue shark to expose the greed of a small town.
“It Follows” was the best horror film of 2014 because it dared to explore deeper questions. Even on a second viewing, it retains its relentless sense of dread. Directed by David Robert Mitchell, “It Follows” was released on video July 14.
The film chronicles a potentially fatal curse that terrorizes a teenage girl named Jay after she has a casual sexual encounter. The only way Jay can get rid of the curse is by having sex with someone else, which passes “It” on to that partner. However, if the person she passes “It” on to is killed by the curse, then “It” returns for her.
The curse can take the form of any person, and only Jay can see “It.” The movie’s creepiest scenes are when Jay sees strange people coming for her while her circle of friends remains unaware of the danger.
“It Follows” is fueled by Mitchell’s masterful direction, a grating musical score, and a strong young cast. Maika Monroe’s lead performance as Jay is outstanding as she portrays the pretty girl next door who transforms into a paranoid basket case when “It” starts to follow her. The supporting cast is equally excellent, particularly Keir Gilchrist who plays Paul, a friend of Jay’s since childhood who harbors an unrequited love for Jay.
“It Follows” is a chilling 21st century American allegory about the dangers of casual sex and sexually transmitted diseases in a hookup culture. But the movie also explores the transition from adolescence to adulthood as Jay and her friends find themselves confronting real-life problems in and out of their suburban playground, which is no longer the safety net of their childhood.