Reviewed by GREG KING
Director: David Robert Mitchell
Stars: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Daniel Zovatto.
A brief sexual encounter between Jay (Maika Monroe, from The Guest, etc) and Hugh (Jake Weary) has terrifying consequences. An unwanted and malevolent presence begins following Jay everywhere and seems intent on killing her. The problem is that only she can see this mysterious and relentless boogeyman, and it can even change shape. Jay’s sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and her friends Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and the bookish Yara (Olivia Luccardi) are also placed in jeopardy by this entity. It seems that the only way Jay can rid herself of this malevolent presence is to have sex with a stranger and pass it on. However if the person she passes it onto is killed by the pursuer then the curse reverts back to her.
Like Jennifer Kent’s eerie low budget feature The Babadook, It Follows eschews the big special effects and blood and gore in favour of some credible and realistic characters and a genuinely unsettling atmosphere. Cinematographer Mark Goulakis bathes the film’s setting in dark and sinister overtones, and he brings a sense of menace to the idyllic, street lined suburban setting.
This is the sophomore feature film for director David Robert Mitchell, who previously gave us the intriguing low budget indie coming of age feature The Myth Of The American Sleepover with its insightful and honest look at the hopes and fears of a group of adolescents as their summer holiday comes to an end. Here he defies many of the usual cliches of the slasher genre, although he suffuses the material with a slowly mounting sense of dread and paranoia and the film preys upon our most primal fears. It Follows will have you looking over your shoulder uncomfortably as you next walk down a darkened street.
The subtext of the film can be read as a cautionary warning about the promiscuity of today’s youth or even STDs and horror films have often drawn a link between sex and death. It Follows is a bit of a throwback to the horror films of the 80s, and it stands out in a market place crowded with a plethora of derivative found footage horror films, soulless remakes and cheap sequels. It Follows is quite tense and moody, particularly as Rich Vreeland’s electronic and effectively ominous score is reminiscent of John Carpenter’s classic Halloween. There is no real effective or logical explanation for the ghoulish entity that Mitchell has created, but that makes it even more effective and unsettling.
Mitchell is also a dab hand with his young cast. Monroe brings a vulnerability to her performance, and does enough here to suggest that she could become the next big screen scream queen a la Jamie Lee Curtis and the like. Daniel Zovatto is also good as Greg, the rebellious bad boy with a crush on Jay, and he brings a grungy James Dean like quality to his performance.
Great word of mouth and largely positive reviews have ensured that this low budget independent horror film has gained a limited cinema release locally. The ending is a little open ended, which has raised speculation about a possible sequel. Let’s hope not, as this is one of those original, stand alone horror films that leaves a strong impression as it is.