Monday, December 7, 2015

Movie Review: It Follows (2014)

It Follows (2014) written and directed by David Robert Mitchell

A good looking but otherwise average college girl is living a regular life. She hangs out with her friends, likes to swim, and has a new boyfriend. Things with the boyfriend are progressing typically, which means they have sex fairly soon. Right after they do it in the backseat of his car, he chloroforms her. When she wakes up tied to a wheel chair, he explains what's going on. He had sex with a girl before and she passed on this thing that has been stalking him. It takes human form and walks slowly toward its target. If it touches its target, that's the end for the target. The only way to pass the curse on to someone else is to have sex with them. To prove he isn't lying, they wait until the thing shows up. Anyone who is cursed can see it, but not anyone else. Then he takes her home and dumps her in the street.

Her friends come out and take care of her. The cops are called in but they can't find anything on the boyfriend. She leaves out the bit about the curse from the police report but does tell her friends. They try to help her deal with the situation. Things start falling apart when an old woman shows up on campus walking straight towards her without saying a thing. No one else sees the old woman, so that's really bad news. She roams from place to place and situation to situation trying to figure out how not to get killed.

The movie is an original horror flick. The premise is a nice twist on the "having sex will get you killed" trope in horror films. The only way to get rid of the killer is to have sex again, though even that isn't a guarantee, since if the killer gets someone, it reverts back to stalking the previous person. It's clearly a metaphor for the problems of promiscuity and sexually-transmitted diseases, but that takes a back seat to the continual terror of this inhuman force in human form that constantly appears and pursues the girl. Most every person is suspect and the only thing one can do is outrun it.

The movie's style enhances the relentless terror of the character. The score is reminiscent (in the best possible way) of John Carpenter and Vangelis. It's always noticeable and occasionally heavy-handed but is highly effective nonetheless. The music pairs well with the visual style. A lot of shots linger and pan around, as if the camera is trying to look everywhere. In many scenes, viewers get a glimpse of the "it" following her when she doesn't see it at first. The temptation is to shout at the screen, "Look behind you!" or "over to the side!" The atmosphere of the film is close to perfection.

Some bits of the story don't work as well. The characters don't seem very creative in trying to outrun or defeat the menace and occasional bits of CG look very CG, though they are rare. Unfortunately they come at the end of the film and stick out after an hour's worth of effective practical effects. Even so, these are relatively minor flaws in a fascinating and terrifying horror film.

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