It Follows (2014) Directed by Robert David Mitchell. With Maika Monroe, Lili Sepe, Jake Weary, Keir Gilchrist and Daniel Zovatto.
BBC film critic Danny Leigh admitted to “waking up in the middle of the night, sobbing” after a screening of writer-director, David Robert Mitchell’s It follows, a stylish horror film about a young woman (Maika Monroe) and her encounter with a mysterious supernatural force, brought into her life after a sexual encounter.
From the very first frame, the film seizes our attention with a striking introduction, setting the scene in a middle-class American neighbourhood, reminiscent of Wes Craven’s A Nightmare On Elm Street. Indeed, the era of ‘Elm Street‘ – the 1980’s – acts as a prominent influence on the film – the electronic score by Disasterpeace, adds a flavour of John Carpenter’s Halloween (admittedly 1978 – but hey) to the impending weirdness. Not only that, but the ’80’s represented the height of fear about sexually transmitted diseases, with AIDS becoming a much higher concern for the western world.
The shot compositions and camera moves by cinematographer, Mike Gioulakis, are pure genius, not only providing burned-on-the-retina, memorable imagery, but also contributing immensely to the overall tension as we, the audience, are invited to play the role of ‘spotter’ for any threats emerging on the horizon. The pacing is tweaked to wring every drip of suspense, playing all the right pauses and in doing so, allows the audience to use their imagination within the confines of the developing plot.
As your imagination starts to explore all the possibilities of the predicament the characters find themselves in, don’t be surprised to find yourself betraying your own moral stance. That’s another brilliant aspect of Mitchell’s tightly focused screenplay, and another dimension to the way in which the horror is applied. Not only will you feel a bit scared, you’ll feel guilty too.
A few words of praise for Maika Monroe – sure she’s young and beautiful, but she’s an actress first and while her performance is fraught with the threat of what may or may not be behind her, she exudes warmth and character beyond the average victim of a teen-slasher film.
The best horror films know exactly how to twist the knife, and while It Follows pays lip service to horror-film history, it does so while staying true to being a beautifully junky, mess-with-your-head nightmare. 5/5