(The gist: It Follows is innovative and artistic in a genre that often is neither, yet it still manages to be unnervingly creepy and effectively scary. Aside from the heavy handed synthesizer on the soundtrack, I simply loved it.)
Before pursued by a relentless, malicious, and terrifying entity that intends to rape you to death if it gets its hands on you sounds like potentially the worst STD ever. As if sex in a car is not bad enough. And this is what befalls young Jay when she finally has sex her with boyfriend Hugh in It Follows.
I found the premise alone for It Follows to be fascinating. I have seen haunting horror movies; I have seen supernatural horror movies; I have seen stalking and pursuit horror movies. I have never seen a horror movie where the characters are slowly pursued by a violent spirit that intends to kill them in the worst way possible. The fact that this spirit is passed between victims by sexual intercourse is just icing on the disturbing little cake.
It Follows brought originality, which is something too often in short supply in the horror genre. The film took stock concepts (evil spirit, haunting of sorts, a slow moving killer in pursuit), yet the elements are deconstructed, reassembled, and reconfigured to be both familiar and innovating simultaneously.
In addition to being unique and enthralling in plot, It Follows is artfully done. I mean that literally. The cinematography is slow, poignant, and artistic. The scenes are composed in a striking fashion not often seen in the horror genre, something reserved for films with less of a body count or gore demand. Yet the approach works. The artistic elements managed to not paralyze or derail the flow, rather these visual details enhance the experience and suspense.
The entity or spirit or monster (whatever you wish to dub it) is boundlessly creepy. The creature only walks, which was reminiscent of the Michael Meyers and Jason Voorhees era slasher killers who showed us speed would never save you. The being never speaks and is relentless. It alters its appearance each time the victim encounters it, some familiar to allow it closer, some utterly terrifying. The fear is created in the subtlety, the slow, methodical, quiet of it. Like the artistic elements, it works because it is applied correctly.
I do have one complaint, however. It Follows embraces the 80s throwback synthesizer soundtrack. I HATED it. I found the music so heavy handed and distracting. More than once, I turned to my viewing partner to say how much I loathed the music. I do not know why every artsy horror movie I have watched feels it imperative to use the synthesizer to death on the soundtrack, but I count it as ineffective.
An homage is one thing, synthesizing my ears to death is quite another.
Yet the soundtrack is forgivable (I suppose) only because I did enjoy the overall movie so much. I will watch it again. At some point, I will own it and include it in my own personal horror library.
Go! Watch it now. Then be weary of who you have your next one night stand with.