It Follows,
directed by David Robert Mitchell
(Northern Lights, 2015)

It might sound kind of lofty to state that It Follows is one of the most excellent horror films to come along that's not from Asia or Scandinavia; however, it is, quite simply, one very terrifying movie, the sort that follows you around for days after.

Nineteen-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe) has a crush on Hugh (Jake Weary), a slightly older man. A couple of dates later they end up in the back seat of his car. After their seemingly innocuous encounter, Hugh chloroforms her. She awakens tied to a wheelchair. Hugh informs her that she is the recipient of a curse passed on by sexual contact. She has caught "It," a malevolent spirit that won't stop following her, no matter where she goes. If it catches up to her, it will kill her, unless she passes the curse on to someone else via sexual relations.

"It" is a shapeshifter that can become anyone. It moves slowly and is completely invisible except to the one It pursues. Jay spends the rest of the film desperately attempting to elude It, which is now indeed following her. Helped by her friends, Jay finds that her survival may depend on making some rather unpleasant choices; otherwise, she's going to have to look over her shoulder every few seconds for the rest of her life.

The sex is tied overtly but brilliantly to the horror. Mitchell neatly and smartly twists that metaphorical element into a nightmare. The pacing is perfect, building a taut atmosphere underscored by a chilling, moody soundtrack. The sleepy, middle-class neighborhood in which the story takes place is at once deeply unsettling and oddly timeless. Although the characters use cellphones, they watch TV on sets that have tubes and drive vintage-era cars, making the era feel "outside time." That, along with the claustrophobic panning and zooming, creates a sense of being constantly followed; of having plenty of places to run but nowhere to actually hide.

Visually gorgeous, uniquely written and with a sense of menace that doesn't quit until the end credits are rolling, It Follows is a gripping, imaginative and solidly made film that neither lets up nor disappoints.

review by
Mary Harvey

19 December 2015

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