After a sexual encounter, a college student is followed by a supernatural entity.
David Robert Mitchell, 2014
19-year-old college student Jay (Maika Monroe) has been seeing a new boy, Hugh (Jeff Weary). Everyone likes him, and he seems charming enough. He acts weird at the movies, seeing a girl in a yellow dress who isn’t there, but Jay’s happy to look past that. However, after they have sex, he attacks her, tying her to a chair and telling her he’s passed something on to her: an entity that can look like anyone, and walks towards its victim relentlessly, endlessly. If it touches you it kills you. At first Jay doesn’t believe Hugh, but then she starts to see people following her everywhere, all the time. The race is on for Jay to find someone to pass It on to before It kills her.
Receiving critical acclaim when it was released last year, It Follows is a very hipstery millennial horror film with a decent premise. The filmmakers take an old-school approach to building tension and fear with a new-school aesthetic. There are some strange and occasionally irritating quirks as a result of this approach (when is this film set? Total mystery), but the drifty camerawork nicely compliments the film’s long takes and low-fi baddie. There are some very effective moments during which It appears to the audience in the background well before Jay sees It, and Hugh’s fear of It is very effective. Of course, It is a barely concealed metaphor for an STD, and It Follows delivers its anvilicious message with all the subtlety of bashing teenagers over the head with an ABSTINENCE ONLY sign. In that sense, it follows in its horror predecessors’ footsteps, expounding the “if you have sex, you die” trope to its logical end. The most terrifying scene in the movie is the one immediately after the sexual encounter, when a ranting Hugh ties up a half-dressed Jay and scares her half to death, though its effectiveness isn’t entirely thanks to the lead actress.
After seeing Maika Monroe in The Guest, I remain unimpressed with her in It Follows. She gives great horror face, young and round-cheeked with a good scream and teary eyes. But Jay isn’t much of a character to start with, far from the resilient final girl we’re used to, and Monroe doesn’t have the acting chops to pull off making her interesting. I suppose it’s horror movie tradition to have fairly flimsy characters, and in that sense this film definitely, er, follows tradition. It also has a surprisingly low body count, which isn’t inherently bad. Combined with a scene late in the game that has a heavy cheese factor, however, it does serve to undersell the fear factor of the film’s monster. The strength of the characters lies in the closeness of their relationships, which are developed more than the individuals are. Jay’s sister Kelly, played by Lili Sepe, has some good moments with their friends, and Keir Gilchrist’s Paul is a believable bestie-with-a-crush. There are things to like about It Follows, but I don’t think it’s the revolutionary film it’s been made out to be.
It Follows on IMDb