You are being followed. It doesn’t matter who you are, it doesn’t matter where you go, it doesn’t matter how fast you run, there is a creature walking slowly towards you. It has no feelings, expressions or clear motivations””its entire existence is centered on ending your life. What’s worse is you did nothing to deserve this. You will now live in constant paranoia, checking over your shoulder every few seconds and waiting for the day that you’re too tired to fight it anymore.
This is the premise of “It Follows,” a new horror film written and directed by David Robert Mitchell about a group of teenagers and twenty-somethings living in the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan, and being tormented by a creature. Jay, played by Maika Monroe, stars as the beautiful blond protagonist of the film.
The story begins with her preparing to go on a date with a cute, slightly older guy named Hugh, played by Jake Weary. They go to the movies, but something seems off about him. When it appears that he can see a woman that Jay cannot, he frantically makes them leave. The next day, the two have sex in his car next to an abandoned warehouse. Shortly after, Hugh drugs Jay so she passes out.
She wakes up bound to a wheelchair and Hugh explains to her that, through the act of having sex, he has transmitted a curse to her. She will now be followed by a creature, which can change its appearance to look like any normal human, that intends to kill her.
The rest of the movie describes the ways that Jay, her sister and her three other friends attempt to save Jay from imminent death. The result is absolutely terrifying.
One of the most effective things “It Follows” does is create an incredibly creepy atmosphere. The time period of the movie is never explicitly shown””the character’s clothes are noticeably outdated and the television needs an antennae and only shows old monster movie. However, the cars are modern and one of the girls carries around a sort of seashell fused with a Kindle.
The absence of any parental figures also makes the film’s world seem somewhat foreign and out of control. What these deviations accomplish, however, is the creation of a new universe with which the viewers are unfamiliar. We don’t know the rules of this alternative world with its skewed sense of time. While this effect isn’t necessarily scary, it does make everything in “It Follows” uncertain and mysterious.
Many critics have pointed out the similarities between “It Follows” and classic horror films, particularly those of John Carpenter. The original “Halloween” is very similar to “It Follows” both in plot and technique. Michael Myers is a silent, slow-moving killer who stalks his victims with seemingly no motivation. However, through his calm yet persistent nature, he is horrifying.
Mitchell clearly adopts some of these techniques to create the monster in “It Follows.”
In addition, many pieces of camerawork are effectively borrowed from Carpenter. The moment when Jay and her sister are walking into their house and the camera lingers and slowly zooms in on their distant figures, and the scene where Jay is sitting in class and the camera pans 360 degrees to reveal the monster slowly moving towards her are definite callbacks to Carpenter’s work.
Shamelessly ripping off somebody’s work may seem a little odd, but Mitchell clearly has control over his work and makes efficient changes to old horror stereotypes.
One of these changes is to that of the main character, Jay. Many would put her into the archetype of the Final Girl, but she actually differs from previous Scream Queens like Laurie Strode in “Halloween” or Alice in “Friday the 13th”: she is not punished for sex. While the curse is transmitted through intercourse, Jay is never scrutinized for performing this normal human function. In addition, she is incredibly thoughtful and intelligent””formulating a brilliant tactic to destroy the monster.
A big question that many viewers have after watching “It Follows” is what does the monster mean? Is it a metaphor for STDs? Pregnancy? Bad boys?
I personally believe that the creature’s whole shtick is that it is unknown and inevitable. We don’t exactly know what happens when it catches you, but we know that we’re terrified of it. Therefore, I felt that the monster represents the fear that humans have for our own deaths. Death is something that is in all of our futures, slowly getting closer and closer to us until one day we cannot run anymore.
I cannot reccomend “It Follows” highly enough for anybody interested in a psychological thrillride. Just remember to keep your nightlight on.