"Wherever you are it's somewhere walking straight for you. All you can do is pass it along to someone else."
Horror films are on a decline, there is no denying it. Even when audiences do get a genuine horror masterpiece like Oculus of the Babadook they end up disliking it because they’ve become so used to the generic , lazily written, cheap jump scares, money making, stupid characters, cliché ridden, unfrightening pieces of crap (god I hate those kind of horror movies) where was I? Oh yeah… that they give it a bad score, complaining about the monsters not appearing. It Follows may be the one that can do both, it could break that mould by tapping into the mainstream horror, only very slightly, and then putting a unique spin on it to be all things to all people.
Following teenager Jay’s (Makia Monroe) recent romantic evening that culminates in sleeping with her boyfriend, he reveals that he has passed a curse onto her. Something will follow her and torment her until she finds a way to pass the curse on to another unfortunate soul. Abandoned by the boy but assisted by her friends she must find a way to escape the supernatural stalker.
It Follows certainly harkens back to what many will refer to as the golden age of horror, the late 70s/early 80s era. Here you had everything from exploitation, slasher, psychological and demonic, your Elm Street’s, Exorcist’s, Shining’s and Halloween’s, all there for a fright night you’d never forget. And elements of them all are clearly visible in this film. It Follows takes them as inspiration, applies them to its own simple premise and plays with them a bit as well.
This can create problems, primarily the fact that if you know these films well enough you can see them being used and though it is great fun to watch them, it can be distracting and reduce the actual horror. For gullible teenagers this will undoubtedly be horrifying but be prepared to be disturbed rather than terrified if you a horror fanatic.
But in another way that can be beautiful because there’s more of a sense of dread rather than sheer terror. There’s a real sense that you’re stuck on a roller coaster with Jay that you can’t get off and even though you desperately want to there’s still enough intrigue and mystery to make you stay on. This is only highlighted by the fact that the Follower only gives chase at walking speed, but it will never stop. This gradual chase is used to great effect, something just at the corner of the screen could be the final threat and the sense of paranoia it generates is brilliant. It Follows also clearly relishes these clichés as much as it examines them, similarly to Cabin in The Woods a few years ago.
Actually speaking of which there are a number of similarities as Cabin in the Woods is probably not the scariest of horror films, but it’s clever enough to be admired as something else and the masterful execution and no nonsense acting style from everyone involved really makes it stand out. The same goes for It Follows. Especially Monroe as she takes just the right approach to make me and everyone else sympathise and connect with Jay as she struggles through teenage life before becoming the possessor of an STD (but in this case D stands for demon) actually, you could look at this film as a subversive comment on STD’s just as people have done so with Cronberg’s The Fly. They act like real teenagers, they have complicated relationships but they don’t hate each other, and at the worst of times they can come together to help one another.
Having a character that you connect with cannot be understated in a horror film as it causes the instinctive reaction of ‘what would I do in that situation?’ That is the fear inducer right there. You try to look over the practicalities and morals of the whole series of events and in that way It Follows begins to disturb in more ways than one.
It Follows is one of the strongest and most intelligent horror films in recent memory. Just as Cabin in the Woods dealt with creature features, this one deals with demons and ghouls in a similar way. It’s scary and fun and wonderfully.