It Follows turns a basic premise into a frighteningly realistic horror
So you met someone and want to take them home, thinking you might get lucky? Well, you do. But since the night after, something or someone is following your every move while strange things keep happening. Suddenly, a seemingly innocent one-night stand turns out to be a long lasting curse.
It Follows is a clever teen horror movie that demands more attention than it looks. The basic plot of the film is that a deadly curse is spread through a sexual encounter. To be free from the curse, one must pass it on by having sex with those who have not been ‘infected’ yet. So you can imagine there are a lot of hot steamy scenes in the film. However, these aren’t the kind of sex scenes that distract you from the actual horror, because in It Follows, sex represents the terror itself.
The opening scene starts in a middle of suburban house. We see a frightened young girl in her underwear who is shaking and looking at something behind the camera. This stranger we see from the camera’s perspective remains unseen, even keeping a distance when she is frantically trying to call her father. Before we can grasp what it is that makes her so scared, she is brutally murdered by the curse. Now, this is the kind of the edge-of-seat suspense that will claim your attention for the next two hours.
It is almost impossible to miss the sexual decease metaphor that is used in the film. Was this ‘curse’ really the HIV virus, for example? In this case, a 19 year old girl named Jay with a romantic outlook on life is stressed because she has no idea that her crush is sleeping with her only to pass on the curse. From then on, Jay is seeing creepy-looking dead creatures who are often naked or wearing night clothes, following her everywhere she goes to kill her. She can never guess when or where they appear, and because these people are invisible to others but her, Jay comes across as crazy and delusional.
Sure, the film is not as deep as it aspires to be, nor does it intend to lecture on having unsafe sex. But we can imagine the emotional turmoil, anxiety and frustration that Jay is feeling as a victim. It is enough to remind ourselves to be smart when fooling around with people.
Writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s ability to create realistic suspense is what makes the scene in broad daylight on a beach feels ten times scarier than a dark basement scene in Insidious, for example. Some of his approach is giving an old horror film vibe, with creepy electronic score and efficient camerawork. He often shoots between bushes or behind a glass window where the action is taking place to perfectly capture a lurking ambiance.
There are many scenes using establishing shots that make the audience feel cornered, with the sense that someone or something could attack us any second. This unsettling, physical thrill is what strengthens Mitchell’s original script and increases the films tension. With only his second film, Mitchell already proves that he is the new force to be reckoned with in the horror genre.
There are not many horror films that could leave you wanting more, but It Follows will be stuck in your mind when you go on your date this weekend.