I wasn’t sure what to think when I sat down to watch It Follows. This movie seemed to come out of nowhere. I was shocked to discover it was from 2014 considering I had never heard of it until recently when I started hearing about it non stop. It also didn’t help that most people I know are insanely divided about the movie. Some claim it’s one of the best modern horror films they’ve ever seen. Others are in the camp of giving it credit for being unique but that it’s a bit overrated. I tried to clear these thoughts from my mind and give it a go.
If you don’t know what It Follows is about, which seems likely for some, it’s basically the STD from hell. If a person sleeps with someone with the illness, they will start being pursued by an unknown force that takes the form of a walking human. Once that human catches up to you, they will kill you. You can buy yourself time by sleeping with someone else to pass on the illness; the problem is once the person you gave it to is killed it will come after you again. In truth you are never rid of it, your best bet is just to hope it’s passed on enough that you can get a break. Our main character, Jay, sleeps with a guy who warns her about it. At first, she thinks it’s a sick joke until she starts to see the “person” following her.
It Follows is pretty smart in the way it handles this situation. Due to the slow pace in which the entity is pursuing the people, it gives a natural sense of suspense. In fact, at certain points, you might even think, “So what? It’s just walking.” The reality is that it never stops, ever. No matter how much space Jay believes she puts between herself and whatever “it” is, it still follows her.
I will say that I want to give It Follows credit for what it does right. It’s a compelling plot, solid suspense, and a genuinely creepy idea when broken down. The idea of being pursued for the rest of your life is unsettling, to say the least. The movie also does an excellent job of changing up what form “it” takes to keep things scary. At one point it’s an old lady, and not long after it’s a boy. This constant shift is rather disturbing, and the fact that Jay is pursued from nearly the start of the film all the way up to the end keeps things intense. Any time the movie slows down you know that it’s temporary.
I also appreciate that the film doesn’t rely too heavily on gore. We know the deaths are not pleasant due to the bodies left by the victims, but the film focuses on the chase rather than the kill.
My problem with this movie is that it feels a bit overworked. There are multiple too many long, unbroken, wide lens shots that start to become boring rather than fitting with the suspenseful ambiance. The first few times it’s used it does add something. You will have a shot like that then something that might be “it” shows up or something along those lines. Other times it just remains an artful shot. Either way, it builds suspense… until it doesn’t. The movie depends on this film technique way too often to its own detriment. Toward the end of the movie, I found myself just sighing when another one happened rather than getting sucked in and wondering what was next.
It’s characters also left a lot to be desired. Paul is the typical nice guy that our lead ignores until she realizes that he’s the one that’s been there for her. I am tired of this trope. I’ve been tired of it since I was a teenage girl, and it’s not getting any better with age. Jay seems rather smart and tough and wants to tackle “it” head on. Except for every time they do that she then turns into a shrinking violet at the last minute. Paul and Jay’s younger sisters are probably the best characters in the movie but aren’t enough of a focus to save us from Paul and Jay.
In spite of these two rather large complaints, I don’t hate the movie, far from it. The idea behind the movie and the way it builds horror is successful. It’s one of the best ideas I’ve seen recently, and it kept me wanting more. It’s just sad that movie starts to get in its own way. A few less “artsy” shots and a little more work on the characters of Jay and Paul and I would agree with people that call it one of the best. As it stands, it’s a great idea that does some impressive things, but I can’t say that it’s more than ‘good.’ I would recommend it, and you might find yourself thinking I am unfair, and you might be right. I am also excited to see what David Robert Mitchell (writer and director) might offer us in the future. If you haven’t had the chance to watch It Follows and you are a horror fan I think you should rectify that.
What do you think? Have you seen It Follows? Am I unfair? Let me know!