Director David Robert Mitchell’s first feature film, The Myth Of The American Sleepover, captured a group of teenagers over the course of a long summer weekend. Few would have guessed that his next project might be a horror movie. And yet, as follow-ups go, It Follows makes perfect sense, applying what worked best about that debut – namely, its haunting evocation of adolescent anxiety and yearning, set against the backdrop of an atmospheric suburb – to a far more commercial genre.
In the film, emerging scream queen Maika Monroe stars as Jay, a 19-year-old who, after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, finds herself plagued by strange visions and the unavoidable feeling that someone – or something – is following her.
The indie film premiered to raves at the Cannes Film Festival last May. It was picked up for distribution the following month and screened at a bevy of other festivals in the lead-up to this weekend’s limited theatrical release. So, is it really as scary as they say? Let’s find out.
The old-fashioned, handmade quality (not much in the way of computer-generated effects) is a big part of the movie’s appeal. Compositions look simple but have wit and elegance. People at the top or the side of the screen could represent something or nothing, but whatever it is, it makes you flinch, and there’s at least one great visual gag involving a person in the water drifting into the frame. There’s a touch of Blue Velvet in the way the camera prowls the bland suburban, manicured lawns — and a faint suggestion that the “thing” is linked to urban decay across 8 Mile Road, where her Jay’s posses go to find that guy who passed it to her. [via Vulture]
It’s a refreshing change for modern horror, which has become far too reliant on jump scares and deafening sound cues, in place of carefully mounting tension. Mitchell prefers a slow burn. The use of wide shots is particularly successful once Jay starts being pursued. It’s almost like a sick game of ‘Where’s Wally?’ – find the plodding killer in the frame before it’s too late. [via IGN]
On paper, the premise of Mitchell’s film may sound like it has a lot of lawyerly Final Destination rules, but on screen its dream logic feels airtight. Much of the credit for that goes to Monroe’s moody teenage authenticity and a believably realistic circle of friends who help her battle something they can’t see but take on faith that she can. It must be said that some of these fighting-ghostly-threats sequences work better than others. In the moments when Mitchell shows us a stranger in the corner of the frame or the deep background lurching menacingly toward Jay, there’s a creeping sense of white-knuckle anxiety. But in others, when the audience can’t see the stalker as it paws at her or hurls things, it feels a bit silly, like we’re watching outtakes from Claude Rains’ creaky old black-and-white chiller The Invisible Man. [via Entertainment Weekly]
As good as It Follows is on a surface level, it’s also got social commentary good horror does so well. It’s about the consequences of sex and how a wrong decision can follow you forever. There are moments in the movie where men are perfectly fine to knowingly take on this curse, just to have sex. Guys – it’s your life or sex, one time! The fact so many choose the former, and the consequences are dire, definitely adds a nice thematic layer below the terrifying premise. [via /FILM]
This is an intelligent horror film made for an intelligent young audience, an audience that’s dying of found-footage fatigue and gimmicks and ready for something that speaks to them. The best horror films aren’t jump scares and demonic possessions and the combination of night vision and shaky cams. Like the best films, the best of the horror genre will reflect something personal back at us, hit on something emotional, and find something relatable to help tether us to thees characters instead of giving us the same tired archetypes and tropes. [via Screen Crush]
Welp, critics seem to agree, It Follows definitely lives up to the hype. So, when you do get a chance to see this seemingly instant horror classic let us know what you think of the film in the comment section below.
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