Film review: It Follows

Maika Monroe as Jay in It Follows
Maika Monroe as Jay in It Follows

Joseph Austin reviews horror film It Follows.

American indie-horror film It Follows opens to a familiar prospect; an indiscriminate suburban town, a scantily clad teenage girl, an unseen perturbing terror.

You’re thinking you’ve seen this before – just another trashy horror flick.

But the intelligent camera work, slowly panning the dimly lit and sleepy sprawl of this American suburb, tells you different.

An unrelenting drone of low-toned synthesisers has no remorse, before high pitched Psycho-esque tones mirror this hapless teenager’s dread.

Fleeing in fear from this invisible force, the girl drives through the night until we find her alone, sitting at the beach, illuminated only by the headlights of the car.

It’s then that the film sets its precedent, its impending doom, before its title hits the screen.

This is no humdrum horror.

Unsettling, smart and enjoyably inventive, It Follows blends atmospheric horror and coming-of age paranoia to produce one of the best films of its genre in recent years.

The story follows (no pun intended) Jay (Maika Monroe), a level-headed 19-year-old from Detroit who’s discovering life at the cusp of adulthood.

After meeting and having a few dates with her boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary), the young couple have sex in the back of his car.

Bucking the latest wave of poorly made and predictably pants horror movies (with the exception of last year’s The Babadook), writer/director David Robert Mitchell’s feature is primarily about one thing – sex.

Not wanting to give too much away, as this film’s beauty lies in seeing it without much prior knowledge, but having sex in It Follows comes at a perilous price.

Much like watching that video from The Ring, where the victim has seven days to live after viewing the tape, doing it in this movie results in you being stalked – Terminator style – by someone you perhaps know, a complete stranger, or even somebody you love.

Breakout actress Maika Monroe, who also appeared in last year’s excellent genre hit The Guest, is once again brilliant, giving a performance filled with fright in the wake of her never-ending nightmare.

Her character Jay is interesting as well as being utterly believable.

Surrounded by her sensible circle of friends and sister, we care very much as to what happens to her, as the film looks to move away from the usual teen horror types.

It Follows works incredibly well in its genre stable thanks to Mitchell’s experimental, yet very simplistic, execution.

Long, expansive, suspense-building shots keep the viewer constantly searching the screen for what could be coming over the hill.

Excellent cinematography makes it hard to distinguish where, or when, this film takes place.

Black and white TV sets and old American cars are juxtaposed against Detroit’s decaying modern landscape, distorting our sense of time and place.

This could be the ‘50s, ‘80s or even in the near future.

Also at work here is one killer score from Disasterpeace.

Like a brooding mishmash of the Halloween and The Terminator soundtracks, this is perhaps the most haunting thing about It Follows, adding masterful suspense and full blown terror.

It Follows isn’t perfect.

Its flaws are mainly to do with story pacing and a somewhat disappointing climax.

But otherwise it’s a horror fan’s dream come true, and will have you looking over your shoulder for some time to come.