There are two bars for horror movies: an overall bar, which is pretty damn high thanks to a string of classics that began in 1968 with Rosemary’s Baby and Night of the Living Dead and continued throughout the 1970s, and a more recent bar, which is pretty damn low. It Follows doesn’t come close to the horror heights of those ’70s classics, but because of its ominous tone and a few memorable scenes, it’s a notch above most contemporary fright flicks.
Another reason It Follows is better than 99 percent of recent horror is that it actually shows respect – for the audience and for the genre itself. Writer-director David Robert Mitchell cares about what he puts on screen, and his attention to detail is rewarding. Mitchell’s story is just as silly as what we usually get in horror, but he presents it with skill and panache.
We are introduced to Jay (Maika Monroe), a morose young woman with morose young friends. (The default emotional state for all of the young people in this movie is morose. Do young people really sit around in dark living rooms, rarely speaking to each other and instead glued to crappy 1950s science-fiction flicks on TV? I have no idea, but these kids do.) Jay goes out on a date with a handsome young man, and then we discover the threat in It Follows – a mysterious malady in which people have sex and then get stalked by “it.” This unsettling state of affairs continues until the victim has sex with someone else, at which point … oh, never mind. Suffice to say that director Mitchell outshines screenwriter Mitchell.
When the … uh, let’s call it an evil “presence” … gets to be too much for Jay, she finds refuge on a swing-set in the middle of a deserted, spooky playground, or by sleeping on the hood of her car. In sympathy for Jay, her morose friends become even more morose. Eventually, our gang of heroes comes up with a foolproof way to battle the stalking menace, a solution that involves a swimming pool, irons, TVs, and other electrical appliances. But of course. It’s a climax that’s certainly “different.” It’s a climax that’s also certifiably dumb.
There are a few scary scenes and several disturbing images in It Follows. Who’d have thought that a lone figure simply shuffling toward the camera out of a crowd of extras could be so unnerving? The eerie musical score has garnered comparisons to John Carpenter’s famous keyboards in Halloween, but it reminded me more of the bizarro score created by Goblin for Suspiria.
So what, exactly, is the “it” that follows? I have no clue, but it does involve the scariest thing on Earth: naked old people. In this movie, young people have sex with most of their clothes on, while old people go full monty. So on second thought, maybe it really is a horror classic. Grade: B
Director: David Robert Mitchell Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Bailey Spry, Debbie Williams, Ruby Harris, Leisa Pulido Release: 2015
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