In what is easily one of the most terrifyingly effective advertisements for abstinence ever, It Follows is an artistic homage to the classic horror/suspense films that made us all fans of the genre in the first place.
I love horror movies and shows. I’ve never loved being actually scared in real life, but something about watching a good horror movie has always been thrilling and fun for me, maybe because I can turn it off if it gets too intense! Unfortunately, it’s been hard lately to find a good horror movie. Too many focus on the gore or shock value, without any substance behind it. And even with some of the better horror movies recently, the trailers usually give away all the best scares, so by the time you actually watch the movie, you see everything coming from a mile away.
But thankfully It Follows came and restored my faith in horror films! Let’s start with the awesome trailer! I usually avoid trailers, and even more rarely do I recommend viewing them, but this one is too good to miss!
Pretty great right?! I especially love the tagline at the end! But yes, a great taste of what to expect from the film without giving too much away, just enough to get you hooked!
Anyway, in the spirit of that trailer, let’s get to this film without giving too much away!
Let’s start with the artistic feel of this film. One of the great things about this film is it’s beautiful shots. We get a lot of great wide/continuous shots that both show the vastness of the world around the characters while also seeming to confine them to their position, which seems to be a theme of the film: there is a great big world around you, but no matter where you go, it follows, so you are never really alone! There are a lot of close-ups, adding to the claustrophobic feel of the film. I’m going to include music in this section as well. Some of the best classic horror films had great soundtracks that added to the tension, and this film is no exception to that. A synthy soundtrack gives this film (and its young cast) a nostalgic vibe to it, while also having moments of intense fear behind it. While we’re on the subject, the film feels distinctly 80s (the phones all have cords, the TVs all have antennas, the cars are junky, the fashion matches that decade), but the one thing that throws this all of is a device that one of the characters has in the film: a clamshell that seems to be an e-reader of sorts. They could all just be hipster kids I suppose, but honestly it doesn’t detract from the film.
Now for the story itself. The film plays on a fear that we’ve all had while walking down the streets late at night: is there someone or something behind me? Add to this the classic theme of the dangers of sex that many horror films play with, and you have a new hit in the making. The villain of this film is what I like to call an STD, a Sexually Transmitted Demon, that latches onto people after you have sex with them. It then follows them around to kill them, and once it has done that, it goes to the last person who had the curse and keeps going down the chain. So even after “passing on” the demon, you’re never really free. Terrified yet? Wait, it gets better: this demon can look like anyone, a random stranger or maybe even someone you know. This is where the brilliance of the film comes through. It puts the viewer on the edge of their seats, constantly scanning the background, looking for a potential threat. You never feel at ease throughout the whole film, because there are so many people that could be the potential monster!
The actors also help to give this film it’s vibe. All of the best horror films have a cast of young people stumbling through life and breaking some rules. They are charming and they are relatable; we’ve all either been or known someone who acted like each of these characters in the film. The pretty popular girl, the nerd, the older jock, the awkward guy stuck in the friend zone, all classic characters in a horror film (just ask Cabin in the Woods). They all play the roles well, without making the film predictable. I’ve also found the best horror films take risks by casting a bunch of unknowns. I’m sure these young actors have a bright future ahead of them!
FINAL DIAGNOSIS: 9/10
If you’re a fan of horror movies, you absolutely must see this film. It’s a new modern classic that uses nostalgia, tension, and artistry to create a story that is both creepy and captivating, beautiful and bone-chilling.