Modern Horror Classic: It Follows

 Note: Continuing on with my revisit of a pre-Halloween series I wrote in 2018 about modern horror classics, we land on It Follows.  Released in 2014, this was a horror that was both gripping and thoughtful.  It was the kind of movie you could see with three friends and each walk away from the film having different opinions as to what its themes and messages were.  This was also a great moment for Maika Monroe, who delivered an outstanding performance and showed the world she was going to be a great leading lady in Hollywood.

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Set in a timeless world, It Follows is the sophomore feature film from director David Robert Mitchell.  The televisions are all CRT back and white, and very old movies are being viewed on them.  The cars are equally old, and yet the story still exists in the present (of future) because of a gadget that a character possesses.  It is quite interesting for the film to go that route, with even having a synth score, perhaps in a way to say that this story and its themes transcend generations.

Our main character, college student Jay (Maika Monroe) has a romantic physical encounter with her boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary), only for it to turn dark.  Jay is tied up in a chair, in a decrepit building, and told that she now has an entity that will be pursuing her.  It can look like anybody.  It is slow because it walks.  It cannot be shaken, as it will never stop until it kills her.  She is told that Hugh has passed this evil onto her through intercourse.  All Jay needs to do is sleep with someone, and the evil will go after him.  The problem is that if it catches and kills a person, it will then go after the one who had passed it on.  If Jay gets caught, it will pursue Hugh again.  He tells Jay that she needs to pass it on and warn the person so they can pass it on.

The concept is very interesting.  Is Mitchell making a statement on casual or unprotected sex. saying that you are connected to everyone your partner has slept with?  It could be that David Robert Mitchell is saying that people need to be more careful about who they get in the sack with.  Allegorical or not, this is a tense film that creates a perpetual sense of fear in the viewer as you know that anyone in the background of a scene could be the evil that is coming to capture Jay.

Interestingly, it is set in Detroit, and uses the collapse of the city as a theme.  There are conversations between Jay and her friends that indicate the city itself is something that was misunderstood by their parents.  This could be a message that is furthered by Mitchell making sure that parents are almost completely absent.  It could be that this is playing on the fact that many slashers are just about the teens or young adults and the parents are always forgotten.  The way I look at it is that he is suggesting certain issues that people face are something that they believe they need to deal with on their own, and that the parents would not understand.

There is a great deal of suspicion that builds throughout the film.  We, like Jay, don't know what the evil will look like.  A lot of films want to have an iconic antagonist appearance.  That is not the case here.  There is no one true image of the entity, leaving Jay to be eternally scared.  It is quite a brilliant move from Mitchell.

Probably the best aspect of the film is the acting clinic that we get from Maika Monroe.  It Follows was her breakout performance.  The role is one that demands so many different emotions and moods, and Monroe handles them all.  The scares for the audience are tethered to what we see of Jay's experiences, and without such a talented lead it could have been a real letdown of a movie.

I've seen this film a few times now, and I still don't know where I stand on possible statements from Mitchell.  Perhaps there are none and I am just reading into things.  Regardless, seeing a movie that gets the brain flowing is always a fun endeavour.  With It Follows we have many different ways to look at what it is saying.  And, most importantly, we have a scary movie.

Rating - 3.5 out of 4 stars