Review: It Follows

Property of Northern Lights Films

Property of Northern Lights Films

Directed by: David Robert Mitchell

Released: 2014

Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto

This past weekend It Follows opened to a wider theatrical release and I could not be more thrilled. I attended the premiere screening at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall and this film was by far my favourite from the Midnight Madness program.   During the Q&A the director said that the inspiration behind the film was based on a recurring nightmare he’d had as a kid, when he was being slowly and incessantly followed by something that looked like different people. This sense of dread and unshakeable fear is what drives It Follows and makes it one of the more successful and genuinely scary horror films I have seen in a long time. Just ask my boyfriend, whom I was gripping so tightly I nearly strangled him with his shirt.
The film centers around Jay, a 19-year-old teen from Detroit with a chip on her shoulder. One evening after having sex with her new boyfriend in the back of his car, he suddenly knocks her out and she wakes up tied to a chair.  He reveals to her that he has been infected with a curse that is passed along through sexual contact. The curse tags you with an evil entity that presents itself in various forms and stalks you to your death, unless you pass it along.  However, even if you give someone else this demonic STD, if the new victim falls to their fate, the curse reverts to you. What “follows” is an unrelenting horror movie, relying on genuine scares and creepy imagery that will haunt you long after the credits roll. The director wanted the film to feel timeless so while the dreamy, synth score and stylized art direction pay homage to ’70s and ’80s horror, characters use e-books and other modern elements, immersing the audience into a surreal nightmare.
The STD analogy is a brilliant one, evolving the bourgeois notion of sexuality to a more relevant monstrosity for our generation.  Newcomer Maika Monroe is a breath of fresh air and also starred in the Midnight Madness closer The Guest. She portrays Jay as a confident, sexually active woman and though we fear for her, she never feels victimized or punished. If one were to ask themselves “what would you do in this situation” what makes It Follows so effectively freaky is that there is no obvious answer, and we have to trust her to survive and pull us through to the end.
It Follows pushes the horror genre in a new direction by bending the rules and modernizing the monster of sexuality.  If you’re a horror movie fan – it’s a must see, and don’t forget to pass it on…

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