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Movie Review: It Follows

It Follows poster

@bloodonthedice gets all paranoid and jumpy but does IT FOLLOW(s) that he enjoyed the experience?...

Jay is 19, beautiful and mad for Hugh, equally beautiful and equally keen. They date, smooch and, as human beings tend to do, have sex. There the fun times end but where many young women might only discover the man they slept with has lied through his teeth to do so, Jay is informed something is after her. Until she has sex with someone else, this thing, a creature that can look like anyone, will relentlessly chase her. If it makes physical contact, not only she dies but so will Hugh and everyone else in "the chain". Jay's only hope is to keep running and have sex again soon.

The intertwined subjects of adolescence and sexuality are staples of the horror genre. More often than not they're employed as little more than cheap excuses to show acres of young - almost exclusively female - flesh and usually for titillation. Occasionally, monsters in horror films serve as metaphors for the dangers of promiscuity, with grisly murders warning teenagers to remain chase or at least practise safe sex. David Robert Mitchell's, It Follows is clearly trying to say something about the risks posed by STIs but it does so clumsily. It's essential that Jay has sex but nothing else is explained, least of all what the entity chasing her is or where it came from. How is sex defined? Is it just penetration and if so, for how long? Literally, can you just put the tip in? Is the curse passed when one party orgasms or both? One can only assume that sex in this context means the lazy male-friendly version.
Still for It Follows
The film also has a little too much fun with Jay's predicament and uncomfortably so. Male friends try to "save" her at various points and an implied encounter with men on a speedboat leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth (no smut intended) given Jay's young age. Jay's actions do make sense in the context of what's after her but the presence of multiple men adds an extra layer of wink-wink-nudge-nudge that isn't needed.

The above aside, It Follows is a very good film. The acting is superb and Maika Monroe manages to do something with a character that in many ways is the traditional damsel in distress. Kier Gilchrist manages to embody the lanky boy with an unrequited crush without being a caricature while Jake Weary's Hugh avoids the stereotype of the sex-mad jock. Each character is clearly defined and brought to life. There are no faults here.

Director Mitchell obviously loves horror - particularly the classics from the 1970s. Shot beautifully and with a score John Carpenter would be proud of, visually It Follows sits up there with the original Nightmare On Elm Street and the early Halloween instalments. It drips with dread, the creature following Jay does so relentlessly and it's difficult to avoid scanning the background for anything odd. Yes, there are jump scares but not many and are used effectively although perhaps only in a cinema where the surround sound can be fully utilised.

It Follows is an enjoyable and, perhaps most importantly, a different horror film whose use of established horror tropes is both to its merit and detriment. While a little short on details, It Follows is a creepy and disturbing film that will linger with you long afterwards.

It Follows is on general release in the UK from February 27th 2015

Chris Smith

Twitter: @bloodonthedice

Images: IMDb & Variety.com

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