ByPaul Donovan, writer at
A jerk with an opinion. An explorer of transgressive cinema. See more things about movies at
Paul Donovan

This movie gives indie horror fans a treat that's both gorgeous and bleak. Here's why.

1. Cinematography

This is probably the most beautiful, stylish horror movie of 2015. It's more than a horror film; it's a work of art.

2. Concept

It's a strange idea for a movie – some people are cursed with a monster that stalks them until it kills them. Nothing original about that, right? Except, there's a catch. The only way you can get rid of it is by having sex with someone, and then the stalker switches to the new target. Once I accepted the idea that getting cursed to death by sex was a thing, I just went with it... and discovered that this is a low-budget, independent, masterpiece.

3. Symbolism

The movie is not only an ode to childhood innocence. It's also a full-frontal assault on childhood innocence.

4. Intensity

As a horror movie, I was surprised at how well it worked. There are a few inventive and effective jump scares, and it continually ratchets up the paranoia and dread. Very few movies have given me as much anxiety as this one did.

5. Setting

It's hard to set the film in an exact time and space - it's full of anachronistic details. Like, there are modern things like cell phones in the movie, but nobody ever seems to watch anything modern on TV. And the clothes worn by the characters are a mishmash of styles and decades. Combine all that with a strangely beautiful synth soundtrack, and the result is a very dream-like atmosphere.

6. Inspirations

There are tantalizing cultural and psychological tidbits riddled throughout the movie like machine gun holes. The most obvious is the character who keeps pulling out her e-book reader disguised as a 1960s clamshell makeup holder, from which she reads aloud Dostoyevsky's bleak classic, The Idiot.

7. Director David Robert Mitchell

This is the second film by director David Robert Mitchell. He didn't have enough money to make all the effects look like they were supposed to, but Mitchell is earning a well-deserved reputation as a visual stylist.

8. Meaning and Metaphor

Some people think the movie is really about an incubus. Some people think it's a metaphor for the dangers of sex or intimacy. I don't think those interpretations are really wrong, but they are really superficial. I think those people missed most of the film and may as well not even have watched it. Because while it's creepy, suspenseful, and even a little bit scary, the real horror is not from the relentlessly stalking killer. Nor is it from symbolized, interpersonal trust issues. The real horror of the film is existential.

9. The Ending

Once the ending smacked me in the face, I left the theater and started back to my car. And walking down the sidewalk, in public, the final piece of the movie swung into place for me. The whole thing pierced me deep, like an arrow, and I just wanted to go home and curl up into a ball. Just like the girl in the movie did.

What did you think of It Follows? Was it a great indie horror or a lame warning about the dangers of sex? Let us know in the comments section! To refresh your memory, here's the trailer:


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