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Film review: It Follows

Director: David Robert Mitchell

Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe

Rating: R

★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

If this film really wanted to get its message across to audiences, each ticket would include a free condom.

It Follows is written and directed by David Robert Mitchell and stars Maika Monroe as a college student who, after having sex with her new boyfriend one night, learns that she is being stalked by a supernatural entity.

From the very first scene of the film, Mitchell casts a great atmosphere. Even though you’re thrown into suspense right off the bat and therefore unsure of what’s going on, you’re already on the edge of your seat. It’s clear that Mitchell grew up an avid horror fan, because It Follows is an obvious tribute to 1980s horror films – it’s set in the suburbs and public schools (an obvious throwback to John Carpenter’s Halloween), as well as the fact that it follows a group of young, sexually active young adults. However, instead of feeling like a blatant rip-off of classic horror films, this film has its own originality.

The idea behind It Follows, as well as its execution, are the best things about the film. The mere thought of a demonic presence stalking you relentlessly until it is able to kill you is terrifying, and the way that Mitchell chose to portray this presence was flawless. If this were any other standard modern day horror film, a loud noise followed by an obnoxious, noisy score would play each time the entity showed up on screen. Instead, Mitchell often chose not to cue the audience in to whenever it shows up. Sometimes it will simply be lurking in the distance with Mitchell leaving it up to the viewers to notice. Because a big chase doesn’t always ensue whenever it appears, I was left feeling tense for the entirety of the film, knowing that somewhere, it was heading for our main characters.

The cast of characters in your typical horror film would usually be a group of expendable people who you truly just want to see killed off in the most gruesome way possible. That’s not the case with It Follows, especially with the main character, Jay (Monroe). When she was in danger, I wanted her to make it out unharmed, and that is one of the best compliments that I can give the movie. Additionally, many of the supporting characters had their own unique personalities that made them stand out. Unfortunately, It Follows did fall into the hole many other horror films often find themselves in – characters’ stupid decisions that could clearly cost them their lives. If you’re trying to escape a demonic entity who will stop at nothing until it succeeds in killing you, why would you fall asleep on top of your car in the middle of the woods? If you were warned to avoid rooms with only one exit, why would you try to hide in your bedroom that only has one door? There are several moments like these throughout the film that had me scratching my head.

While the performances and characters were good, a great majority of the praise that this movie has received is due to the excellent score by Disasterpeace. The score in this film might as well be a character in itself. The keyboard and synth-driven music was without a doubt a tribute to 1980s horror and meshed so flawlessly with Mitchell’s directorial style. Last year we had The Guest and its ’80s slasher vibe and synth-heavy score, and now we have It Follows – it’s nice to see a return to form for the horror genre, honoring its golden era with music like that of Disasterpeace’s and directors like Mitchell who know how to effectively use music to build suspense.

The Verdict:

Nowadays we only get between one and two stellar horror films a year. In 2013, we got The Conjuring, in 2014, we got The Babadook, and It Follows now has the honor of being 2015’s best (but hopefully not last) great horror movie. With Mitchell’s creative concept, a unique underlying message about having sex (but only with someone you care about), and characters worth investing in, this movie had me on edge from start to finish. As the title suggests, It Follows will stick with you long after the credits roll.

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