I love horror films, yet bizarrely, rarely watch any modern releases of the genre. I’ve become completely switched off from them, expecting another lazy plot that relies on cheap cliches with no originality behind them. Horror, in my experience, has become a genre that requires you to dig a little deeper to find the good, or at least intriguing stuff.
When I heard about It Follows though, I was excited. The plot sounded curious, recommendations were enthusiastically spooked, while the retro-style of the posters just made it look very cool. So last night, at last, I settled down with a mug of hot peppermint tea as the weather perfectly timed the rain, and pressed play.
Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, It Follows is a hark back to 70’s and 80’s horror, with a synth-tastic score reminiscent of John Carpenter and a lazy, suburban setting where the only distractions are a large, leafy pool and old black and white movies playing in a dimly lit living room.
David’s idea for the movie apparently originated from recurring dreams as a kid, in which he was being followed. That unanswerable, uncanny, ghoulish nausea in the pitt of your stomach after waking up from a really bad nightmare is the best way to describe the follower. We don’t know what it is, or where it’s come from. We only know that it can take various zombie-like forms, that it walks slowly to its prey, and the only way to get rid of it is to pass it on by sleeping with someone.
Oh, and there’s one other catch — that person you sleep with? They have to pass it on too, because if it kills them you’ll start being followed again. So you see, you’re never completely in the clear from this haunting presence. Once you’re part of the chain, it could be walking towards you at any moment.
Jay Height, played by Maika Monroe, is unluckily made the next link. After sleeping with her boyfriend, Hugh, she is rather un-romantically chloroformed and tied up in a car park, where Hugh explains to her the situation, and that whilst he is very sorry about doing this to her, the follower is her problem now.
The style and direction of this movie was so refreshing to watch. Long, lingering shots, slow zoom-ins, lonesome locations and that soundtrack — this movie isn’t all about the jumps and easy scares. It uses instead the nostalgia of older movies to create a recognisable, yet oppressively creepy atmosphere that offers no relief from its spookiness.
I suppose my only frustration was the desire for answers. Where had this thing come from? Why was it following people after they’d had sex? What would it do if it ever reached the very first person it started with?! But on thinking about this more, I became content that this premise isn’t meant to be answered. I enjoyed the chill of such an idea as though it were a manifestation of anxiety; this emotion that you can’t quite pin down and so it remains scary.
Horror movies aren’t for everyone, but I still find it sad when I hear others say they actually hate the genre because, “it’s rubbish”. Horror movies can be creative, terrifying and stay with you throughout the long night’s sleep after watching it. It Follows proves this.
PS Not one to watch if hoping to get lucky on a date night.
Rating: 4 stars