When I first heard of It Follows a year or so ago, and that the plot was basically about a supernatural STD, I kicked myself. You see not only do I pen reviews but also pen horror fiction from time to time, some of it erotic in nature, and I actually have two ideas for a STD horror tale, one of them is, or was, supernatural, not anything like It Follows, but an idea for one was there and I never wrote it. D’oh!
So hats off to writer/director, David Robert Mitchell for beating me to the punch.
Before I jump into the review this is the second movie I’ve critiqued that was done as a period piece yet had modern tech in it. Micheal Peterson’s Insectula (2015) has a very vivid and obvious 60s look going on, but it doesn’t take place in that era, since on display throughout the film is 2015 technology, namely cell phones and computers. It Follows owes a lot to the aesthetics of John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978), namely looking like it takes place in the 80s, and it’s even scored with an 80s sensibility, but like Insectula characters are seen using 2015 technology. Now, two movies like this don’t make a trend, but on the off chance we could be at the very beginnings of one, someone needs to come up with a term for movies like this. James Cameron once called his Terminator “tech noir,” maybe, It Follows and Insectula should be known as “retro-modern noir,” or “ret-mod” for short. In fact, that’s what I’m going to refer to these kinds of movies anytime I review them from here on out.
Ret-Mod, yeah, I like that.
And that’s just one of the reasons I loved this ret-mod flick, It Follows. I was a teen in the 80s and as I mentioned this many times in other reviews, the 80s was my favorite era. Horror movies really excelled at what they did back then Halloween was a perfect example of how to slow burn your horror at just the right temperature. It Follows is a similar slow-burner, but one without a resolution. Another nice touch I liked. The “STD” on display you could almost look at like herpes. Since there’s no cure, all you can do is manage the flare-ups, and at the conclusion that’s what our remaining characters feel like they’re preparing to do, manage any and all future flare-ups. Then again herpes doesn’t kill, so Mitchell’s STD is one up on that.
There’s no origin or clear understanding given to what this “STD” is or where it came from, which was fine by me. Ambiguity, when handled right, adds to the horror and Mitchell handles It Follow’s ambiguity expertly.
Collegian Jay Height (Maika Monroe) has a date with this new guy she met, Hugh (Jake Weary). Two dates actually, they never get beyond that. He comes off as a nice enough dude, but on the second date after they shag in his car in this abandoned complex’s lot, he drugs her and she wakes tied to a wheel chair, inside that “abandoned complex.” The wheelchair kind of gives the location away, the name of which escapes me as a write this, but it appears to be one of those abandoned sanatoriums I’ve seen hunted by paranormal investigators on SyFy’s Ghost Hunters and Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures.
Anyway, she wakes up tied to this wheel chair inside the building and is given a crash course on what was just given to her via the shagging. Something is going to start following her, something that can look like anyone, especially loved ones from time to time, but make no mistake you don’t want to get near it. It walks at you, toward you, eager to get close enough to kill you. Never find yourself in a place that doesn’t have more than one exit, Hugh tells her. And only the infected can see this “entity.” But it’s not something only within the mind of the infected, it occupies physical space within our world, invisible to the unaffected only, but it can be touched and felt by anyone and it can “touch and feel” back.
The job of the infected is to either let it kill you or pass the “STD” on, but passing it on doesn’t guarantee you’re rid of it. If the next person isn’t good at running or hiding or passing the “disease” on and it kills them then you’re right back to square one, with the thing hunting you.
Since it’s no faster than a walking person it can be outrun, temporarily. And that’s what Jay does through out the picture, she runs, and her sister, Kelly (Lili Sepe) and her friends, Yara (Olivia Luccardi ), Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and Greg (Daniel Zovatto ) follow. The don’t initially believe but they end up doing just that when they track down this “Hugh” and he tells them what he knows, but the clincher is at the beach house of Greg’s family when the entity is witnessed grabbing Jay’s hair and striking Paul.
Solutions are few and far between, so much so there really are none. You either keeping running or you die, but Jay tries to pass the “STD” onto Greg (they screwed before in high school) thinking he might be able to help and see it for himself. Yeah, that doesn’t work so well. In the end I don’t think Greg really believed this thing existed and he paid the ultimate price for that. After a big final act plan is put into action and goes full clusterfuck on them in a pool almost getting Jay and Yara killed, she decides to pass her STD onto Paul, who she’s known since childhood and who’s had a crush on her for some time. As I mentioned there is no resolution for these two, they walk hand in hand in the final scene prepared to meet whatever horrifying fate awaits them if they ever fail to manage the frequent “flare-ups.”
No only did this movie remind me of Halloween, but it also had a tinge of A Nightmare On Elm Street (1984) in it as well. Teens menaced by some kind of invisible urban legend entity, except this one isn’t a talker, in fact it might be creepier than Fred Kruger, no less dangerous, just creepier since it doesn’t communicate and you have no idea what form it’s going to menace you with next.
The only two actors I recognized in this were Jake Weary from Altitude (2010) and the recently reviewed, and hilarious, Zombeavers (2014), and Daniel Zovatto, who I last saw in that killer fish flick, Beneath (2013).
When I heard of this movie it was getting ready for the usual limited release independent genre flicks get these days, then suddenly I heard it was going wide and the rest was history. After that I heard a lot of love was flung at it from those who had seen it. I did hear of some bad reviews, which seemed to indicate to me this is one of those flicks you either praise or loathe on the spot. No middle ground. You love it or you hate it. Period. I loved it. Exclamation point.
Back on July 14th Anchor Bay released It Follows in separate DVD and blu-ray editions.
Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.35:1 high definition widescreen—5.1 English DTS-HD Master Audio—English SDH, Spanish subtitles only
- Critics commentary with Scott Weinberg (The Nerdist), Eric D. Snider (MovieBS), Britt Hayes (Screencrush), Samual D. Zimmerman (Shock Till You Drop), Alison Nastasi (Flavorwire) and Eric Vespe (Ain’t It Cool News).
- A Conversation with Film Composer Disasterpeace (4:56)
- Theatrical Trailer
- Poster Art Gallery
There’s been talk, obviously, of a sequel and a concept has been bandied about where the main characters end up tracking the entity in search of where it may have come from. Follow It is the possible title. Sounds good to me. Now do I think there’ll be a sequel? Yes. I’ll go one further and say It Follows will end up a trilogy.