You can’t run. And you can’t hide. Because no matter where you go, “It” will follow. And if it catches you….
Such is the basic premise of the latest horror sensation to hit theaters, It Follows.
After a mysterious and deadly opening sequence, the movie centers on Jay, her sister, Kelly, and their friends, Paul and Yara. Jay is excited to go on a first date with this guy, Hugh. But at the movie theater, he becomes unnerved and they leave early. It is on their second date, where things don’t go well for Jay, and she learns she has now been handed down a horrifying curse, in which she will be continually followed by a slow-moving, yet relentless entity that won’t stop until it kills you. And worse still, this manifestation can take the form of anyone, from a total stranger to your best friend. However, there is a way for the curse to be passed onto someone else as well. It is now up to Jay and her close-knit group to try and figure out how, not only to avoid succumbing to this curse before it’s too late, but, find a way of transferring it to someone else, and, thus, breaking the hold it has on them.
Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, It Follows is a terrifying film from start to finish that harkens back to the beloved horror films of the late 70s and early 80s. Taking place in and around the Detroit area, the neighborhoods look like they could have come straight out of John Carpenter’s Halloween. And while the movie seems to come from an earlier time, as people still drive station wagons and no one ever uses a cell phone, their is a timeless quality to it, and the characters still seem to belong in the modern world. The movie also takes the oft used horror trope of ‘having sex will get you killed’ and twists and turns it completely around and upside down. And the fact that “It” can come from anywhere and anytime in the form of anyone lends the film a constant sense of dread and suspense, as the audience is just as on edge as the characters in the movie, constantly on the lookout for “It.”
Maika Monroe is outstanding as Jay. (She was also in last year’s excellent, The Guest.) She does a great job of conveying the necessary fear, while also possessing a strength in fighting back against this deadly curse. The rest of the fresh-faced young cast excel as well, with dialogue that seems natural and by real people. Also of note is the creepy score by Rich Vreeland, which would seem right at home in place of Goblin music in a Dario Argento film. The camerawork by Mike Gioukakis is also highly effective with its 360° pans and widescreen displays. Mitchell brings it all together to form a scary, original and immensely compelling screen experience.
Like last year’s critically acclaimed, The Babadook, It Follows is getting equal amounts of universal acclaim, with a current Rotten Tomatoes score of 94%. That’s higher than last year’s best picture winner, Birdman. It also opened in theaters with the highest per-screen box office of any limited release so far this year. Released by The Weinstein Company through its Radius-TWC division, the film expands to 1200 screens on Friday. It is refreshing and encouraging to see a horror film of such quality getting such a wide release in lieu of going straight to video or on demand. Hopefully, its success will pave the way for many more unique and enjoyable horror films getting the big screen treatment they deserve. And though it’s only March, and no matter what’s still to come, It Follows will certainly end up at or near the top of the list of best horror films of 2015.
— review by Brian de Castro