Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the bedroom, It Follows comes to make you relive the most horrifying moments of your adolescent youth. The ultimate game of tag, except in this game you get an STD and the “D” stands for demon.
After an alarming opening, the film kicks into motion with Jay, an average teenage girl (played by Maika Monroe), who is on a typical date with her typically douchey boyfriend, Hugh (Jake Weary). All seems normal, they go see a movie, go to dinner at an inexpensive joint. Then the two have consensual ex in Hugh’s car, real classy, this is when he chloroforms Jay and dumps the ultimate burden on her. Upon waking, Hugh explains to Jay that he has just passed on a demonic entity that will continue to follow her until she passes it on to someone else via sexual intercourse and so the games begin. Man what a guy, you don’t get that experience from Tinder.
As the film progresses Jay and her friends try an innumerable amount of tactics to get rid of this entity. What makes this film work so well is the relatability of the characters and settings. There is extreme potential for all the usual tired out tropes to emerge, but somehow It Follows manages to dance around them. Everything predictable that could happen doesn’t. Jay is not the “over sexed bimbo” that the horror genre has come to love, she is an intelligent hero. She is willing to take chances to rid herself of this entity, but she likes to carefully strategize before doing so. She doesn’t make the oblivious mistakes like running upstairs to the only unsafe bedroom, she doesn’t fight the monster alone, infact she gathers her friends to help her in her endeavor.
It Follows is a rather unconventional conventional horror film that gives many nods to horror supremes like Alfred Hitchcock (Psycho) and John Carpenter (Halloween). It doesn’t rely on cheap gimmicks or overused jump scares to bring on the goosebumps, it simply relies on its realistic atmosphere and paranoia. Just like Jay, the audience will not know when, where or what form this entity will emerge as, until it is too late. Often scenes are shown with Jay and her friends walking down a street with a few civilians walking in the background. Could any of these bystanders be the entity? Who knows.
What the film does best is presenting its actors in a manner that feels too close for comfort. The director of this film makes the decision to have actual young 20 or something people play teenage characters. Horror movies haven’t really done this since the 80’s. For the most part, modern films like Michael Bay’s hideous Nightmare on Elm Street remake, have had thirty years olds playing fifteen year olds, the effect is inauthentic. But It Follows manages to show a believable group of middle class teenagers.
The most interesting character out of the Scooby gang would have to be Jay’s socially awkward friend Paul (played by Keir Gilchrist). At first Paul is the butt of everyone’s jokes. All his friends make fun of how pathetically awkward he is, but all Paul wants is love (and mostly sex). The only way he can get it is if a girl has a demonic entity attacking her soul or by paying a prostitute. He is not model handsome, he represents the average teenager.
Sure It Follows isn’t the first movie to make a statement about sex, but it is one the first films to accurately address this subject. This movie is far from having the kinkiness of Fifty Shades of Grey, that’s what makes it so scary. If not for its use of suspense, this movie would fall into the trash pile of modern horror failures. It Follows offers a fresh spin on horror and lots of fun.
THE VERDICT: **** (Four stars) Catch It Follows in theaters before it catches you.