For many longtime fans of classic horror films like The Exorcist and The Shining, the 21st century movie industry has been characterized more by frustration and boredom than by fear and fright on the big screen. Lately, the genre has sunk into a dependence on jump-scenes, unnecessary gore and recycled storylines of few shapes and sizes.
The genre, however, is not lost quite yet. It may even be on an upswing. It Follows—written and directed by David Robert Mitchell—just may be one of the quintessential cornerstones in its resurrection.
Built on a shoestring budget, the plot centers on Jay—played by Maika Monroe—a lovely and unwitting teenager of suburban Detroit. By having sex with an apparently harmless college boy named Hugh—played by Jake Weary—Jay becomes cursed by an unnamed, nefarious force that follows her—silent and slow in unyielding pursuit. She enlists her friends for help as the entity closes in, relentless and inescapable as a shadow in daylight.
Ultimately, the movie culminates in a shrewd commentary on hyper-sexuality and intimacy in contemporary American society. In the process, it gives several self-referential nods regarding the nature of horror and storytelling in general. It Follows harmonizes numerous themes in the progression of its creatively unnerving plotline.
The eerie, pulsating score to It Follows was so menacing and kinetic that it became its own character, leading Jay and her friends along their nightmarish path with a blanket of anguish and worry every step of the way. Produced by Disasterpeace, it is reminiscent of the legendary scores of John Carpenter movies made back in the 1980s—when horror was relevant and sometimes even groundbreaking.
It Follows is a commanding and imaginative example of what the horror genre is capable of producing. It leaves an enduring sting long after its conclusion. The film not only scares, but uses its uncanny storyline as a vehicle for conjuring up important questions that provide for great discussion after the credits roll.
In collaboration with Disasterpeace and a team of devoted actors and actresses, Mitchell has chiseled a movie of considerable intelligence and terror.