Saturday, March 28, 2015


David Robert Mitchell's It Follows has been the toast of the indie-horror community lately. Lots of hype has surrounded the movie, with promo materials calling it "one of the most striking American horror films in years." Strong buzz following last year's premiere at Cannes through this year's Sundance Film Festival have reinforced the idea that It Follows is THE movie that genre fans have been waiting for; the ultimate frightfest the likes of which haven't been seen in over 30 years.

Inherently, that kind of hype is bound to lead to disappointment. While I would consider It Follows to be another sad victim of the so-called "hype train," (it's not "scary" or "horrifying" so much as it is occasionally creepy), it boasts striking visuals, a jarring soundtrack, and smart performances.

The story follows a chain letter-type plot in which one character tries to overcome some affliction before passing it along to someone else. It Follows explores the ramifications of teen sexuality and the loss of innocence. The entire production is essentially one long allegory for STD prevention. It's interesting that a horror film would take this approach over the classic slasher
cliché of teen sex being punishable by death at the hands of the killer. In It Follows, the kids spend the entire movie dealing with the consequences of their promiscuous actions. The cast of young actors, led by The Guest's Maika Monroe, play it smartly and maturely. They all have a very natural rapport with one another, which makes for believable reactions and interactions within some of the spooky circumstances that these characters find themselves.

What's more is that there are times when the film reaches a level of high art simply by its framing. How often do we see that in a horror film about teen sex? Some shots linger in just the right places for maximum, "look-behind-you!" effectiveness. Mitchell gives us a semester's worth of lessons on how to use the widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and one gets the impression that whatever he does next will be just as visually masterful.

As for the soundtrack, I'll say that it won't do it for everyone. Disasterpeace's score is heavy on the synthesizer and features some skull-shattering tones evocative of Hans Zimmer's work on Inception. It fits the retro-70s/80s vibe of the production design and services most of the images quite well.

My initial impression of It Follows was that if David Lynch and Stanley Kubrick had gotten together to re-imagine John Carpenter's Halloween, it would look something like this. It's at times as bizarre and beautiful as anything I've seen from those directors. It's just so disappointing that its scares don't quite live up to the hype.

I recommend seeing it for a unique piece of cinema during this dull season at the theaters, but don't go in expecting the scariest movie in decades.