Friday, April 3

It Follows Review

It Follows
Dir: David Robert Mitchell
Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, and Lili Sepe

Put the past behind you. Director David Robert Mitchell has taken this greeting card sentiment to literal horror movie purpose in this gem of an independent fright film. With a simplistic premise and an unsuspecting and meticulously moving monster, “It Follows” utilizes atmosphere to create an eerie, chilling, and surprisingly thought provoking film that at the center could be described as a sexually transmitted haunting. However, horror is always an interesting genre to supplement examinations on other topics and “It Follows” displays this quality by offering more substance under the surface than most other genre films. Still, apart from the implied aspects within the narrative, “It Follows” is consistently calculated and frightening.

Jay (Maika Monroe) is a nineteen-year-old young woman living in a suburban neighborhood with little worry about anything more than school and starting a relationship with a boy named Hugh (Jake Weary).  After a sexual encounter with Hugh, Jay wakes up tied to a wheelchair. She is told she is cursed and that she will be followed by an unstoppable entity until she passes the curse onto someone else. With the help of her sister (Lili Sepe) and friends (Keir Gilchrist and Olivia Luccardi), Jay must make the decision to fight the supernatural force or doom someone else to her deadly fate.

The scares aren’t fast or sudden here because the antagonist doesn’t hold either of those attributes. It’s so simple, a ghost that follows the subject without any unneeded flash. It’s an entity that is never fully explained, those are always the best kind of monsters, and slowly stalks with unwavering purpose. In one the film's most effective scenes an elderly woman simply walks down a naturally composed school hallway with her arms outstretched. It doesn’t sound necessarily scary but the narrative establishes the rules so effectively for the ghost that the viewer understands the deadly consequences that could happen. With an assisting score that echoes a John Carpenter synth track, a striking composition when it suddenly introduces the film, David Robert Mitchell makes the most of every assisting filmmaking device. Whether the score that builds unrelenting tension, or the framing techniques that place an emphasis on the character while showing all the lingering possibilities in the spaces between and behind, or the editing that builds apprehension with clever cuts and transitions, it all works in making the film more startling and surprising. It is unfortunate that the film builds itself into an inescapable corner with a conclusion that is completely acceptable if a little lackluster.

 Maika Monroe is good in the lead role as Jay, exuding a wholesome quality that is corrupted by fear. Kier Gilchrist, who had a nice turn in “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”, is great here as the reluctant guy friend who obviously has a crush on Jay. His character transition within the story offers some nice depth as the character moves from hesitant to heroic.

There are some minor issues with pacing late in the film and some poorly executed camera movements that might pull some viewers out of certain scenes. But there are also impressive flashes of a director who understands how utilize the genre characteristics in effective ways. “It Follows” is a wonderfully well-crafted genre film that is sure to keep viewers jumping in their chairs.

Monte’s Rating
4.00 out of 5.00

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