2014, Directed by David Robert Mitchell, 1hr 41 mins.
The basic plot of ‘It Follows’ goes like this - a malevolent entity is killing people who have a sort of curse they received by having sex with someone else who has that curse, and the only way to stop this thing stalking and killing them, is having sex with someone else, then it goes after the other person first. Once it kills them though, it goes back to the previous person, so it’s in a persons interest to pass it on. Simple, right?
The suspense and terror comes from this entity being seen as a person who walks unnaturally slowly and follows those with the curse, and which only they - or others who have had the curse - can see. The film opens with Hugh befriending the film’s main character - Jay - having sex with her, but then tying her to a wheel chair so she can see the entity stalking her, and explaining the ground rules. It’s a neat and chilling way to deliver the needed exposition for sure.
The film sees Jay recruit some friends to help her, and they go about trying to evade and kill the entity. I don’t really want to say much more than that since it is a large part of the film.
It’s a cleverly done film too. On one level it’s about sex between young adults, but it’s not a sexual film at all - the sex is purely the transmission method. None of the characters dress in provocative or sexy outfits - the whole look of the film is very plain, very down to earth, and in many ways, that’s part of its strength as a suspense horror film. There’s no big special effects - it’s closer to Halloween than A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Some might want to draw conclusions that there’s a message on promiscuity or whatever, but I think it’s just a novel and more matter of fact way of passing on a curse. The film does more around the morality of passing it on to save yourself, and not just that, but also about whether you should explain ithe situation to the victim, willing or not, and we see multiple permutations of this in the film.
It’s an independant film, apparently shot for about 2million USD, but which has grossed well over 25million at time of writing. Shot in Detroit, the sets and locations match the film technique - it’s all matter of fact - no expensive cars, sexy tight clothes or exotic locales, just a suburban horror film. The colours are muted, most of the camera work is eye level or below, a lot of wide angle work and it looks very gritty and real, which suits the mood of the film.
I should mention the soundtrack - it’s an 80’s electronica sounding score, almost like classic John Carpenter soundscapes, done by Disasterpeace and it fits in surprisingly well, adding real tension at places, then quickly ramping as needed, and matching the lo-fi look of the film. Nicely done.
At 1hr 40mins, it doesn’t overstay its welcome, doesn’t try to over explain anything, and ends on a suitable note. It hangs on a single plot device, but thanks to the underplayed acting, lack of explanation and smart soundtrack and editing, the time flies by.
Recommended for a night watch.