It Follows (2014)
Retro in style, accomplished in production & highly effective in execution, It Follows is an expertly crafted, skilfully narrated & ingeniously composed indie horror that arrives as a highly refreshing take on its genre for it intelligently subverts the usual tropes of modern horror, makes excellent use of background score to elevate its sense of dread & beautifully blends the aesthetics of John Carpenter films with contemporary indie settings to deliver a cinema that’s not just creepy, sinister & chilling but thought-provoking as well.
Set in Michigan, It Follows tells the story of Jay; a 19-year old college student whose life is turned upside down when, following an innocent sexual encounter, she’s informed by her date that he passed on a curse to her, the curse being a supernatural entity which will be pursuing her all the time & the only probable way to get rid of it is to simply pass the curse along before the entity gets to her. Haunted by this inescapable burden, Jay enlists the help of her friends to get away from the visions that are only a few steps behind.
Written & directed by David Robert Mitchell, It Follows is only his sophomore effort yet his direction brims with assured confidence that isn’t customary to new filmmakers. The film manages to create an impending sense of doom within its opening moments, thanks to its eerie use of uneasy atmosphere & synthesised score that bears more resemblance to John Carpenter’s works. The screenplay deserves equal recognition too because the story, despite its laughable premise, isn’t paper-thin but digs much deeper than expected & can be interpreted in more ways than one.
Coming to the technical aspects, It Follows makes thorough use of its available resources to make its narrative work. Although no timeline is specified in the movie, the set pieces & locations do evoke a 1980s feel. Cinematography makes outstanding use of its camera to encapsulate the whole picture with an uncanny atmosphere that only escalates as the story progresses, plus the way it uses its stillness, 360-degree pans & slow zooms makes the entire experience all the more unsettling. And Editing is a gem in itself that paces its 100 minutes of runtime in a very steady & patient manner.
However, the finest thing about It Follows remains its background score. Composed by Rich Vreeland (better known as Disasterpeace), the soundtrack comprises of synthesised tracks that seems heavily influenced from John Carpenter’s compositions and contribute immensely in sustaining the film’s nail-biting tension as well as amplifying its suspense throughout its runtime. Coming to the performances which isn’t really its strongest suit, the cast chips in with fine inputs in their given roles & although none of them leave any lasting impression, Maika Monroe does manage to make her mark in bits n pieces.
On an overall scale, It Follows is in every way a welcome addition to its genre that never abandons its menacing tone for some cheap thrills and certainly carries more substance than the majority of horror films released in the past few years. Despite that, I can’t help but feel quite underwhelmed by the whole experience because, considering the nearly universal acclaim it has garnered ever since it made its debut on the silver screen, I expected much more than what it had in store. It’s not that what it offers isn’t impressive but its abrupt ending was unexpected & leaves behind a feeling of incompleteness. Nevertheless, even if It Follows isn’t viscerally frightening, the fearsome aura it creates over the course of its runtime is sure to keep the viewers on the edge of their seats. Definitely recommended.