It Follows

Directed By: David Robert Mitchell

Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, and Lili Sepe

If you've followed this site for any extended period of time, I'm sure you've discovered the fact that I have no love lost for the horror movies of today.  These days, we get the millionth unwarranted entry in a long-running franchise, a supernatural horror flick that is stylistically akin to every other horror movie that's come out in the last twenty years, or bloody and brutal torture porn.  Sometimes, it's a combination of these.  With the exceptions of The Cabin in the Woods and You're Next, the genre has been in a real creative rut in recent years.  I've had no problem calling each and every filmmaker out for his or her missteps in the genre.  With this month's It Follows, I'm prepared to do the exact opposite.  For once in my life, there's a horror movie to laud.

The film opens with a girl fleeing her home into the woods.  Shortly thereafter, she is found dead.  Her corpse is mangled.  Sometime later in the suburbs of Detroit, Jay (Maika Monroe) begins dating a guy named Hugh (Jake Weary).  While out at the movies one evening, Hugh sees a woman in a yellow dress and points her out to Jay.  There's just one problem.  Jay doesn't see her, even after repeated attempts by Hugh to point the woman out.  Because of this, Hugh rushes out of the theater with Jay before the movie starts.  With Hugh's awkward behavior, the new couple doesn't close the deal in bed.  On their next date, things go better, and Jay and Hugh make love.  Afterward, Hugh does the gentlemanly thing to do and renders Jay unconscious with a chloroform-soaked cloth.

When Jay wakes up, Hugh tells her that he's passed a curse onto her by sleeping with her. According to Hugh, there's this thing that will follow her.  It moves slowly, but it will kill her if it catches her.  It can be anybody, a naked middle-age man, a creepy kid, or a woman in a yellow dress.  Regardless, it is always walking toward its target, which, at the moment, is Jay.  According to Hugh, she needs to sleep with some unsuspecting guy quickly to pass the curse onto him.  Not willing to do that to someone in a cold manner as Hugh has, Jay turns to her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and friends Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and Paul (Keir Gilchrist) for help.  Her ex-boyfriend and neighbor Greg (Daniel Zovatto) joins her nightmare as well.

We could argue for hours on whether it's actually essential, but sex is indeed a frequent ingredient in the horror genre.  Whether we're talking about the shower scene in Psycho or horny teens getting busy at Camp Crystal Lake, it's undeniable.  That's why It Follows is just the creative, innovative film the genre so desperately needs.  By making this curse transferrable via intercourse, director David Robert Mitchell makes sex an integral part of the storyline of It Follows.  With a premise like this that turns a shallow aspect of the genre as a whole into something more, Mitchell’s indie horror flick is a terrific example of immensely inventive filmmaking.  Mainstream horror directors could take a lesson or two from him.  All in all, It Follows offers moviegoers a taste of the ultimate STD.

Mitchell is able to create one terrifying world by employing a multitude of cinematic techniques in It Follows.  The film very much channels the horror movies of old.  You can see it in Mitchell's eerie use of a barren, isolated Detroit ravaged by economic catastrophe.  You can hear it in the bass-pumping electronic score that never fails to shriek in the film's freakiest moments.  You can feel it in the sense of paranoia that Mitchell stirs with "It" haunting Jay relentlessly as anybody and everybody.  It's an incredibly creepy film that will unnerve even the toughest moviegoers one way or another.  What's unfortunate about this is that I rarely get to say this about horror movies.

One of the marks of a great new film is intriguing mythology, and It Follows boasts just that.  Sex is both the problem and the solution in this scary movie.  The key to understanding the film's mythology is embracing this notion.  In the sick, twisted minds of moviegoers like me, I'm sure there are plenty of questions.  How did "It" begin and what's the source of its supernatural powers?  How many lovers have been cursed and followed?  Do strippers and prostitutes get the short end of the stick when it comes to transferring this curse?  Is orgasm required to transfer the curse, or does penetration suffice (because that would be totally unfair to women in this fictional world)?  The fact that plenty of other moviegoers and I are pondering questions of this nature speaks volumes about this film.  Simply put, Mitchell's horror film leaves us craving more, and that's a good thing.

With sexual intercourse so critical to the film's premise, perhaps It Follows is a horror film with a message that resonates in many of our love lives.  Regardless, it's the best horror movie we've seen on the big screen in years.  It’s genuinely scary.  With terrific filmmaking from all involved, we may have just witnessed a pivotal creative turn in this flailing genre, one that's desperately warranted.  If you're looking for a great horror movie, this is the one.  It Follows gets a strong 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.