Sunday, March 29, 2015

They Came Together: Indie “It Follows” is Overall a Creepy, Stylish Thriller

“It Follows” is one of the more original horror films to be released in some time. Though is anything truly original these days? Of course not. It's obviously influenced by past classics such as “Halloween” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and even a bit of of “The Ring” thrown in. It wins points for sheer style and its overwhelming urge to be a tribute to great horror films that came before it. It features a synth-heavy 80s film score, 70s style camerawork, and a clever premise with some decent frights and good tension. It turns out that horror films with simple but effective premises are the most successful and "It Follows" fits the bill.

The film stars Maika Monroe, coming off the similarly retro “The Guest,” as Jay who seems like a normal girl. She's close with her sister, has some close friends, and is dating an older guy and she'd ready to take it to the next level. Everything seems perfect until she finds out that this guy just passed along a curse that is passed through sexual activity. Remember how the slasher films of the 80s basically insisted that after having sex you have to die? This is literally the premise of “It Follows.” It seems that once you're “inflicted” some kind of supernatural force follows you until you die. Moral of the story? Keep it in your pants, kids.

Jay doesn't know if she's just crazy or if there really is some evil being following her. She gets help from her friends, and the guy across the street who appears to suspiciously resemble young Johnny Depp, who also lived across the street from the heroine of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.” Jay even sees a person staring at her while she's in class ala Laurie in “Halloween.” The film is an obvoius ode to these older films just take a listen to that retro soundtrack provided by Disasterpiece that wouldn't be out of place in an early John Carpenter film. Even the film's unknown setting feels very much like it's set in the past (which I assume it is, though Jay's friend uses a deceivingly futuristic touchscreen reading device in a clam shell, just one of the film's many mysteries). The young cast is pretty decent and likable even if they're not all that memorable; at least they seem relatively real.

I really enjoyed the retro feel of the film, which like the must-see “House of the Devil,” feels like part of a new group of modern indie horror films that defy genre classification. It also helps that the film is decently creepy and wholly atmospheric. I even jumped a few times. The pace sort of meanders a bit in the second half and I can't say I agree with some of the choices some characters make but otherwise I rather enjoyed “It Follows.” I like and appreciate what writer/director David Robert Mitchell has given us. It's obvious he understands and enjoys the genre and wants to give fans something they haven't quite seen before, even if it's a little rough around the edges. He does seem to care about music cues and overly stylized camerawork than about writing memorable characters but that's to be expected. At least he also cares about his film being scary. “It Follows” doesn't quite feel like a game changer the way “Scream” was nearly twenty years ago, but this usually under-appreciated genre is at least heading in the right direction.  GRADE: B
  

Trailer for It Follows on TrailerAddict.

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