Director: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Maika Monroe, Linda Boston, Caitlin Burt and Heather Fairbanks
Running Time: 100 minutes
Release Date: February 27th
Any psychologist worth his salt will tell you there’s an inherent connection to be made between sex and death, and death is obviously a big part of any horror film worth your time, so it follows (see what we did there?) that sex and horror are intrinsically related. Whereas some scary movies have put sex in the spotlight, with the likes of Cherry Falls, Teeth or Ginger Snaps, it was usually with tongue deeply embedded in cheek. It Follows dumps the humour and finally lays bare the horrors of sex.
When Jay (Maika Monroe) finally gets a hot date with the new hunk in town, it ends with them having sex in an abandoned warehouse. Suddenly he drugs her, and she wakes up tied to a wheelchair. Her date is rambling about “it”, something that will follow her everywhere, something that only she can see, and something that cannot be stopped until she passes it on to someone else.
From there on, Jay finds herself struggling with the thoughts of ridding herself of this torment, and who to share it with. “It” appears in several different guises, sometimes as people Jay knows, mostly as complete strangers, usually in some state of undress, and no matter what she does or where she hides, “it” is always out there, slowly walking towards her.
Despite taking some cues from well-known horrors – the autumnal suburban setting of Halloween, the useless grown-ups of A Nightmare On Elm Street, the virus like monster of The Ring, the unstoppable pursuit of The Terminator – what sticks out for It Follows is how originally scary it is. Much like last year’s best horror movie The Babadook, there are next to no BOO! moments and not a huge amount of violence. Instead the movie takes its time burrowing into your mind, unravelling basic fears and flipping one of our most basic desires into something disgusting and fear-worthy.
Those same salt-worthy psychologists will also have a field day with this film, as it overflows with subtext and potential readings, with the power of sex and the vulnerability it can represent, or the survivor’s guilt of sexual abuse (it’s not enough to just pass “it” on, you have to help the person you pass it on to survive, otherwise “it” just reverts it’s murderous gaze back to you), to the visual interpretations of “it” and how they change depending on Jay’s current situation.
Monroe is perfect as Jay, a current-gen scream queen; Jay is smart enough to know the situation she’s in is unbelievable, with Monroe herself still being completely believable in facing an invisible threat. She’s surrounded by mostly great support – one of the movie’s few faults is a relevant-for-the-moment quote reading book-worm who seems to have wandered in from a different story – and while writer/director David Richard Mitchell lets the pace dip around the middle, he still knows when to get actively involved with a scene, or when to sit back and let the natural horrors speak for themselves.
It Follows is not for fans of your basic, assembly line horror films, with their ‘scream now’ jump-shocks and 12a certificate to get the kids in. This is smart, effective, original horror made for fans of the unknown, by showing us the scary side of something we know all too well.