Film Review: It Follows (2014)

“Does it deserve all of the praise lavished on it? The simple answer is both yes and no.”

After an apparently innocent sexual encounter turns into something altogether more sinister, a young woman named Jay finds that she is being stalked by a relentless being that can assume the form of anyone, and that will never stop to rest in its steady pursuit of her. With this thing intent on killing her, and always on the verge of closing in, Jay calls on the help of her friends, and together they must try and find a way to stop ‘it’ before it is too late.

Following its debut at Cannes in 2014, It Follows was lauded by many as one of the best, scariest horror movie to hit screens in over a decade. It has been a year since that premiere, and the David Robert Mitchell written and directed chiller now makes its appearance on DVD and Blu-Ray in the UK. So, does it deserve all of the praise lavished on it?

The simple answer is both yes and no. There is plenty to commend It Follows for sure – the film’s main premise of a curse that is sexually transmitted, and that cannot be stopped, but only passed on to someone else via a sexual liaison, is undoubtedly its strongest point. In a time when so much modern horror seems to be floundering for ideas, it is a simple, refreshing device that not only works well to serve as the backbone of the plot, but also as a subtext about the sexual fears that plague young adults. There is plenty to like with both visuals and soundtrack too – the cinematography from Mike Gioulakis in particular looks fantastic, aided by a good production that seems to place the film in a time period that is neither current nor retro, while a great score from Rich Vreeland (credited as Disasterpeace) only adds to an overall stylistic sensibility that strongly nods to late 70’s and early 80’s American horror – indeed, fans of Carpenter’s Halloween will no doubt feel very much at home as we are taken down the films quiet suburban streets.

Where It Follows falls down however is in the scares department. While there is something intrinsically unnerving in the unerring way with which the supernatural ‘it’ stalks Jay (ably played by scream queen in the making Maika Monroe), real frights are sadly lacking overall. Far from being the ‘scariest film for a decade’ that many would have you believe, scares are reliant the oft-used ‘quiet, quiet, LOUD NOISE’ formula, and in the end it is simply not frightening for anyone apart for the casual horror film viewer. It’s a shame because you can help but feel that perhaps a much more effective experience could have been had if Mitchell had explored the creepiness inherent in the ‘it’ character somewhat more – but as it stands things become a little stale, even verging on boring, as the film enters its muddled final reel.

Overall, there are some great moments to be had with It Follows, and fans of early 80’s horror in particular will certainly find much to enjoy. Is it the best horror film of the past decade though? Absolutely not.

 

JASON HICKS

Director: David Robert Mitchell
Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi
Certificate: 15
Release date (UK): DVD 29 June 2015

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