02nd Mar2015

‘It Follows’ Review

by Ian Loring

Stars: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Linda Boston, Ruby Harris, Bailey Spry, Debbie Williams | Written and Directed by David Robert Mitchell

it-follows-poster-uk

Over the last few months we have been spoilt for choice when it comes to interesting indie genre fare. The Guest, Predestination, The Babadook and Coherence all seem to have chimed with the very particular audiences they attract and David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows seems to be treading the same path. Debuting at Sundance last year, the film has built up a head of steam since and along with the aforementioned Babadook, it has been rather difficult to escape it on film related social media for the last little while. On the basis of the film itself, this is hard to understand.

The concept behind It Follows carries on the strong throughline of horror in having a threat metaphorically represent a real-life issue and with this film you have this in both direct and somewhat more subtle ways. The premise, a creature who will follow you until it consumes you unless you pass it on through sex, could be seen most obviously as a metaphor for sexually transmitted disease but it could also be read as a summation of the trails of growing up or even ghosts of a disturbing past rearing their heads when you think you’ve banished them forever. The film throws all of these ideas up in the air but does little with them as the film ends in an ambiguous way in which it feels like nothing is resolved, the wheel goes ever on and the air of “why did I just watch that for 90 or so minutes?” pervades.

The  muddiness in narrative also extends to its approach to horror. Are we going for jump scares, disturbing money shots or an overall mood of dread? It Follows worries itself with going for all three but misses the mark entirely. Horror is an inherently subjective genre and a film’s success will often depend on what you individually find scary so it may well be that this film will terrify you but it felt like little new was being offered here. The central idea is somewhat creepy but the rules of the world are oft-broken (an example: If it is supposed to blend into the background, why does it appear in some of the rather stark forms it appears in?). As the narrative spends entire scenes on exposition, this is intended as something you need to pay attention to but questions appeared throughout, the longing for dread not working to make this fade into the background. This is despite strong work from Maika Monroe, a likeable presence with whom you get on board almost immediately.

The roving camerawork and synth soundtrack by Disasterpiece impress at first, the references to horror of the past feeling obvious but not hammered on but all of this increasingly loses its effect also. The scares become easier to detect and the score becomes so try-hard that by the third act it is harder to feel tension than it is pure boredom.

There are plenty of positive words being said about It Follows online and the feel of jealousy towards those writers holds in the air. If you see it and you’re disappointed just know you’re not alone even if it feels like you are.

*½  1.5/5

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