TIFF 2014: It Follows
Poor Jay (Maika Monroe). She’s a young, attractive girl dating a guy she really likes, but once she has sex with him things go sour. Turns out her date (Jake Weary) only wanted to get in her pants so he could give her his ghostly STD. Anyone with the curse/disease starts seeing something in the form of a human walking towards them at a slow, steady pace. They can outrun it, but they can’t stop it, and if it catches up it will brutally murder them. To make matters worse, the thing can only be seen by those afflicted with the curse, and even passing it on through sex isn’t a guarantee; once the apparition kills whoever it’s after, it simply goes right back to haunting the last infected person.
Sounds convoluted, but through David Robert Mitchell’s writing and direction It Follows is one fun, lean horror machine. Mitchell uses the rules behind his horror villain to create some seriously eerie, intense moments, milking the image of someone slowly walking towards the camera as much as he possibly can. The use of long shots and 360 degree pans not only give the film a neat stylistic quality, they also go a long way establishing the fear and paranoia Jay goes through. Jay needs to keep moving to save her life, and the camera’s elegant restlessness evokes her feelings of constant fear and paranoia perfectly.
A heavily aggressive sound design and over the top score (seriously, if you thought Cold in July‘s Carpenter throwback soundtrack was too much, it’s nothing compared to this) kills some of the tension. The bombast of the film’s sounds and music don’t make for a good match with the simplicity and restraint of Mitchell’s core concept. Luckily the creepiness doesn’t get drowned out, making It Follows an enjoyable piece of genre fun.