It Follows is a wonderfully refreshing horror. It’s not a slasher, it’s not a ‘found footage’ movie and, bar one or two very nasty scenes, it doesn’t rely on an abundance of gore, either. It’s just a very well made film with a very neat little idea that provides plenty of suspense and does it very, very well.
I’m reluctant to go into too much detail of the plot – half of the reason of why I wanted to watch this film was the teaser trailer, which told me almost nothing, and that worked beautifully at capturing the film’s essence because, like so many great horror films like Halloween and Alien (the original films, at least), it’s more about the unknown and the fear of that that makes this film terrifying.
What I will say is that the plot focuses on teenager Jay who, after having sex with someone, finds herself stalked by something. I won’t say what that something is (and to be honest, by the end of the film, it’s still not exactly made clear what it is, and that was something I really liked about it,) only that it doesn’t run, it doesn’t walk through solid walls or any of the usual cheap horror tricks you’d expect, and that was something I really appreciated. But it doesn’t stop either.
Some of my favourite horror stories are really great at taking something ordinary – the dark; shadows; statues; dreams – and make them absolutely terrifying. This is the first horror film I’ve seen since the original Halloween that has made fucking walking absolutely fucking scary. Just walking. And that’s the real beauty of this film. You’ll be watching scenes as closely as possible to see if there’s anyone or anything in the background that’s walking at all, coming closer and closer. And then, when the film’s over, you’ll be paranoid of anyone who’s walking towards ya. I haven’t felt that paranoid after watching a horror for a good long while, and that’s something I was really impressed with over this film.
Lead actress Maika Monroe is great in this. The character of Jay needed to be played convincingly with a lot of vulnerability to really draw us in, someone who gets pushed to their absolute limit and beyond, and she portrayed that beautifully. After appearing in last year’s excellent action/horror The Guest, she could very well end up as a ‘scream queen’ for modern horror if she keeps this up.
I mentioned earlier about how closely you’ll be watching this film, and I’d just like to mention that the film in general is shot really well. There’s plenty of really great wide shots that build up the suspense really nicely (is that person walking towards us actually a person, or is it…?), and some nice close-ups, too. In fact, the whole cinematography of this film is just fantastic, and really adds a lot, especially in the climax – there are plenty of horror movies where the suspense is gone towards the end, but this isn’t one of them, and, while I won’t explain why, there were quite a few points when I was ducking at times, something that I just don’t ever do.
I’d also like to mention the soundtrack. It’s fucking gorgeous. Reminiscent of 80s horror soundtracks while avoiding being derivative, it’s the kind of electronic, synthesized music that you just don’t hear anymore in horror films these days, something else that reminded me of last year’s The Guest.
The only niggles I have are ones that this film could’ve avoided – namely, a couple of moments that I just thought were really, really dumb, done to provide more suspense at the cost of potentially ruining the suspension of disbelief. One such example gave me the following reaction: “HOLYSHITHOLYSHITHOLYSHIT, THIS IS GETTING REALLY- wait, why are you running up the stairs? This thing will FOLLOW you, no matter where you go, but it only walks and you can run away easily with enough space, and instead of being near an easy exit, you run UP THE FUCKING STAIRS?!” (Not that I said any of this out loud, obviously.) It’s something that’s bad enough to see in an average horror film, but this film has such a great concept and is so well made that it makes it even more of a shame that it includes very old horror cliches like this from time to time. However, these moments are thankfully rare and fail to ruin the overall enjoyment of the film.
If you’re looking for something that’s reminiscent of classic 70s and 80s horror while also providing something fresh, then this is definitely a must-see. 9/10