March 31, 2015

Movie Review: It Follows (2015)

Do you ever feel like someone is following you? Get that creepy feeling up the back of your spine? I would be really surprised if you haven't. After watching It Follows, you will likely experience that sensation. It is not really a pleasant one, it is like someone is after you, a sense of dread that you cannot shake, cannot escape. It is not unlike the spectre of death. It is inevitable, there is no escaping it, no talking to it, no deals to be struck, it just keeps coming after you. Sure, you can take care of yourself, but in the end, death will be there. With It Follows, you get a visual representation of death, a metaphor for STDs. It is creepy, has no escape, and is not graphic.

It Follows has somehow found its way onto more than 1,200 screens in its third week of release. It is pretty interesting to follow this indie success story. It proved to do well enough on a handful of theaters in its first two weekends to get pushed out nationwide. Whether or not you like the movie, this is a great thing for independent horror and perhaps more importantly for original horror. This is no remake, sequel, reimagining, or based on preexisting material. Sure, you can probably recognize influences, but this is still a new vision.

I did not really know much about the film going in, and that is likely the best way to go in to this. I also find that this movie is not going to be universally loved. I accept that. Still, it is a movie that you need to see, to support original horror in the theater, and hopefully like it! But if you don't, perhaps your support of this will help he next indie get theatrical support that you will like!

It Follows has a very simple concept. “It” follows you until one of two things happens: it catches you and kills you or you have sex to pass it on to someone else. That is pretty much it. The great thing about it is that you can read some different ideas into it, like “it” being a metaphor for an STD, or impending adulthood, pretty much anything that cannot be escaped, perhaps even death?

Strip away the interpretations and you have a seriously creepy and atmospheric tale of a young girl who has sex with a guy she is seeing who then learns she is being targeted by this “it” and the only way to get rid of it is to pass it on. Until she is able to do that, “it” will follow her, always walking, steadily approaching, never stopping, never wavering.

It Follows has a timeless quality. In many ways I am reminded of John Carpenter's Halloween. The relentless nature of the killer, the synth driven score by Disasterpeace (which reminds me of a mix of Carpenter and Charles Bernstein), the absence of any parental oversight, the poor decision making in the face of near death, the slow, methodical pace, everything adds up to a great time at the movies.

I recognize that this is not a movie for everyone, and that is all right. It is, however, one for me. The acting is very naturalistic, sure, they make some decisions, but who is to say we would do any better in the same situation? You may be thinking clearer in the theater, but you are not facing death.

Writer/director David Robert Mitchell does an exceptional job building atmospheric dread and creating fear in a very stripped down approach and very little in the way of gore. This movie is almost anti-sensationalistic. It does not care to artificially create excitement or shock you awake with a jump scare, it allows its horror gently seep into your pores, infect the area around you, and create a state of paranoia you cannot escape. To that end, it does not explain a lot, and leaves things there for your mind to fill in the blanks, a puzzle with a few missing pieces, you know what should be there, but is that what it really is? Right down to the final moments, It Follows.

It is a movie that allows for interpretation of its symbols and metaphors, but it also does not require it. It Follows invites you to read as much or as little into it as you want to. The basic format and structure proves to be more than effective in this regard. Watch, enjoy, be scared. Just remember... It Follows!

Highly Recommended.

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