It Follows – Or less is more…
It Follows (2014) (Video hosted on You Tube, so remember not to read the comments, they’ll just drive you mad!)
Written and Directed by David Robert Mitchell
Following a timely offer of a 99p rental, I thought I would give It Follows a go after hearing a lot of good things about the film.
The story (ahem) follows Jay, a young girl plagued by a mysterious stalker after an innocent sexual encounter: a stalker with the sole desire to kill their victim. The stalker follows its latest victim relentlessly until they pass it on to another sexual partner. If they are caught, the stalker reverts to the previous victim and goes back to stalking them. The stalker can also appear as anyone from a young child to a 7ft giant with hollowed-out eyes. Frequently creepy and disturbing, it is the stalker who is the star of the show. Although that is not to say that lead Maika Monroe doesn’t put in a wonderfully understated performance.
There were a couple of things in particular I liked about the film.
Firstly, there was no unnecessary explanations as to why the creature was following or what it was after. It just was. We don’t necessarily need complicated set-ups in horror, we just want to be creeped out. So Jay has sex, is infected and gets told to keep running from the stalker… or die. Set-up complete…
Secondly, the Stalker was creepy and unsettling, even though he/she was only on screen for short periods of time and, for most of that time, was simply walking towards the camera. There are the usual jumps and scares thrown in for good measure but, for the most part, it was just the eerie, rising dread of being followed that made the film so unsettling. Sometimes you don’t need blood and gore or larger than life characters hamming it up on screen. The simple sight of a naked man on your roof, staring at you as you drive away in fear is enough to get the goosebumps rising.
For anyone struggling with how to develop tension in a story, I think It Follows would be a good example worth watching. Subtle and understated, it masterfully creates an atmosphere of dread with almost minimal effort.
There is also the added benefit of a fantastic, “Carpenter-esque” 70’s soundtrack by Rich Vreeland that wouldn’t sound out of place in Halloween. The retro nature of the soundtrack further unsettles the viewer when coupled with the (deliberately) confused setting of the film that isn’t sure if it is set in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or even later.
Lots of great ideas, writing, acting and direction combine to create a refreshing, understated horror that will leave you with an unpleasant taste in your mouth and a crick in your neck as you keep an eye out behind you.
Feel free to comment on the film below and let me know what you thoughts if it if you have seen it.