- on Friday, 13 March 2015 15:24
- by Frank Wilkins
Filmmaker David Robert Mitchell turns horror on its head with his It Follows, a creepy little bugger of a film that has been lighting up the film festival circuit over the past year and even made quite the fuss at Cannes with an appreciative nod in the Critic’s Week Grand Prize category. Despite its many flaws, imperfections, and “oh no, they didn’t” moments, It Follows will find a way to burrow itself deep into your psyche.
It’s a teen horror film in the vein of Halloween, the Friday the 13th films, or anything ‘80s John Carpenter, but with some serious Cronenberg-ian psycho-sexual themes thrown in for good measure. But It Follows bucks the trend of genre formula by making us fear the known. We know what it is. We see it. It follows. We just don’t know what it wants or why. And though we never see what it can do, we’re told that getting caught will have a ripple effect reaching far beyond a single victim.
Real visceral fear typically comes from what we don’t see – from what happens just outside the frame. And while Mitchell constantly explores the corners and shadows of the scene with lingering wide shots, the film’s most effective moments happen in full daylight, with the sun beating down on a beach scene, or in a perfectly lit school hallway. We see the “it” and even though “it” methodically plods towards the victim, the creep factor is in full effect. The film isn’t heavy on gore and never exploits the jump scare. Mitchell is certainly never above outright exploitation, but he does leave enough mystery and intrigue to keep us constantly wondering.
“It” takes on many physical forms. Whether a naked menstruating woman, an abnormally large Lurch-like giant, or the zombie-fied adolescent boy with peeling flesh and vacant eyes, the villain is a deliberately ill-defined menace in human form. But in the supernatural form, it follows slowly and incessantly like a bad case of The Clap. In fact, It Follows is about a sexually transmitted curse. Once you’ve become infected via sexual intercourse, you become victim to the spell that appears in human form… but only you can see it.
Maika Monroe is doe-eyed teenager Jay who mopes about with sister Kelly (Lili Sepe), and friends Paul (Keir Gilchrist), and Yara (Olivia Luccardi) as they while away the lazy summer days. When Jay has casual sex with her new boyfriend (Jake Weary) she soon learns that he has passed the curse down to her. The only way to get rid if it? Pass it to someone else by sleeping with them. But if that person gets killed, the curse is back on you.
Many unique horror premises have been blown by poor execution or just plain lack of creativity. But, with It Follows, the opposite may be true. It’s basic premise isn’t necessarily rare or unique, but the love for this little gem comes from Mitchell’s unique vision which gives the film a delicious timelessness. It feels like the ‘70s with tackily-appointed ranch styles and rabbit-eared TVs that crackle classic ‘50s black and white sci-fis. But a teen’s clam shell-shaped e-reader loaded with Dostoevsky suggests a completely different time and place. And like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, there’s hardly a parent to be found. Rich Vreeland’s pulsating techno score enhances the overhanging sense of doom.
Though Mitchell insists his premise comes from a childhood nightmare of being constantly pursued by something slow and persistent, the resemblance of his film to a PSA on sexually transmitted diseases is undeniable. But he never presses that comparison. We’re never annoyed by the comparison, and in fact, are more pleasantly annoyed by the way this horror gem slowly follows, chewing its way into our brains.
It Follows commits a lot of horror no-nos. There are plenty of “they wouldn’t really do that” moments and we should never feel compelled to stop down and question character motivation. But if rough-around-the-edges “feel like taking a shower after watching” horror is your thing, then It Follows is must viewing.
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language
Runtime: 100 mins
Director: David Robert Mitchell
Writer: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi
Tagline: It Follows
Memorable Movie Quote: "This thing. it's going to follow you"
Distributor: Radius TWC
Official Site: http://itfollowsfilm.com/
Release Date: March 13, 2015
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: July 14, 2015
Synopsis: After a strange sexual encounter, a teenager finds herself haunted by nightmarish visions and the inescapable sense that something is after her.
Available on Blu-ray - July 14, 2015
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); UV digital copy; Digital copy
Region Encoding: A
David Robert Mitchell's It Follows arrives on blu-ray courtesy of Anchor Bay with a 1080p transfer that scares up a damn good amount of detail. The colors are vibrant and effective in establishing a color palette that matches the tone. Shadows go deep and black levels retain their edges when the film does dark. Contrasts are good and help balance out the picture. Equally engaging is the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 lossless soundtrack. While never thunderous, it highlight's Disasterpeace's synth score with the film's dialogue perfectly.
- Establishing a richer understanding of the film and why it is so effective in its genre is the commentary from critics Eric D. Snider, Britt Hayes, Samuel D. Zimmerman, Alison Nastasi, Eric Vespe, and Scott Weinberg.
There's not a lot but there's enough good stuff to make it interesting. Outside of the commentary, there's an on-screen interview with the composer of the film's score. Releasing his work under the name of Disasterpeace, he shares how he got started with a game called Fez and how that led to film composition. Also included is a collection of images created by artists supporting the film.
- A Conversation with Film Composer Disasterpeace (5 min)
- Photo Gallery
- Original Trailer