I don’t usually open up my movie reviews by singing praises to the title, but in this case I’m going to do it. It Follows is one of the best horror films I’ve seen in the last 10 years. There have been a precious few that have made that list so it’s notable here. If that’s enough of a recommendation for you then congrats, you can stop reading now.
It Follows is the story about a teenage girl, named Jay, that after having sexual relations with a boy becomes “cursed” to be hunted by an “IT” as the film title says. We see Jay at the beginning of the film hanging out with her friends and sister out on the town and at home. It’s some nice character set-up stuff to give us an idea of her character and those around her. What we don’t see a whole lot of is her parents, which to me really captures that 80s horror vibe I think this movie has going on. The mother clearly is an alcoholic given the brief scenes we see her in. This is a nice set-up to make sure that it’s clear to us Jay and her friends don’t have an adult to turn for any help, physical or emotional. Jay is then preparing to go on a date with the boy I mentioned earlier. His name is Hugh. They go to see a movie, but before the film starts Hugh asks Jay if she sees that girl in the yellow dress coming towards them. She says no and very quickly he grabs her hand and says let’s go. Jay suspects it’s an old girlfriend. She seems to find his behavior odd, but not overly.
Hugh and Jay drive to an abandoned factory/office building and after some brief talking, have sex in the back of his car. Despite the location they are in, there isn’t really anything too spooky here. Afterwards Jay is laying in the back of the car talking to Hugh, who’s gotten out of the car and opened the trunk. Suddenly he pounces on her and puts a rag over her mouth and she passes out. When she comes to she’s tied to a wheelchair in the same abandoned building. Hugh is running around her with a flashlight looking out past the building. While he’s doing this he’s apologizing for scaring her, but he is doing it to get her attention. He explains that he has/had something that he’s now passed on to her. He says something now if following her and wants to hurt her. “It could look like someone you know or it could be a stranger in a crowd. Whatever helps it get close to you.” Then he excitedly shows his flashlight into the brush near by and he and Jay see a creepy nude, almost zombie like woman shuffling toward them. He says that’s “It”. He seems to imply she just needs to pass it on to someone else. Then he drives her home and drops her in the street in front of her house. Her friends rush to her aid and the police are called. Turns out Hugh, name and address were all fakes. He clearly was posing as someone to pass this thing on to another person.
Jay initially doesn’t believe anything that he said, and really who would, it’s a pretty out there story to swallow. It doesn’t take long however for her to identify very odd people around her that seem to be coming for her and based on how they look and location they stand out to a degree. It’s at this point that she believes what Hugh said. She’s intent on trying to find out who he really was, what this thing is and how to escape it. I don’t want to go on with the story much beyond this point, because there are some excellent things that you just have to see with where they take the story and I don’t want to spoil that from you. Honestly I haven’t said much more than what you can figure out from the trailer.
I shall close the review by talking about some technical/aesthetic things about the film as they are a big part to why the movie is so great. The soundtrack is amazing. It’s done by an artist called Disasterpiece. It’s a synth score that delivers that sounds that so many 70s/80s horror films had, but yet completely it’s own thing. There is never a point where I felt like the score was trying to mimic any particular composer. Visually the film also has strange callbacks to 80s horror films, just based on the locations, cinematography, and even a particular scene that feels like an homage to both Halloween (1978) and A Nightmare on Elm St. (1984). The movie is strange in that it never says what decade things are taking place and the environment gives way to this kind of dream like “anytime” feeling. The homes and cars look quite old, but then you see modern vehicles and homes. At one point the house the family is in looks like something straight out of 1985, but then one of Jay’s friends is using what looks like small cosmetic mirror that has a small touchscreen that she’s reading on. Much like reading a book on your smart phone. If you like original horror films, love the the horror from the 70s/80s and are sick of remakes then take time out to watch this.
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