Directed by David Robert Mitchell
Starring Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe, Daniel Zovatto
Released on May 17, 2014 at Cannes, March 13, 2015 in the USA
Running time: 1h 40m
Wow. I mean…wow. This is really good. I mean, it’s not fantastic, but it’s pretty damn good.
Screw any decent opening; I’m just going to get into it.
There is a trope in classic as well as modern horror films that sex – illicit, nonmarital sex, mind you – equals death. In It Follows, this trope is not only satirized, but taken so much more literally than in earlier horror films.
Anyway, our story begins in your standard unnamed American city with a prologue at night. A very paranoid teenager drives to the beach, tearfully calls her father, sits on the beach, and waits. Cut to morning, where we see the same teenager, looking very dead. She is bruised all over, and one of her legs is seriously bent the wrong way. Yikes.
We are introduced to our main character named Jay (Maika Monroe), an innocent, carefree teenager, who only needs braces and taped-together glasses to complete the “nerd” look. She goes on a date with her boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary), which takes the form of the generic date: dinner and a movie. They skip the movie after Hugh sees something that scares him and he asks Jay if they can leave. While at dinner, the camera, instead of focusing on Jay and Hugh, focuses on a shadowy, darkly lit figure walking straight toward them from across the street. EPIC UNSETTLING FORESHADOWING.
On Jay and Hugh’s next date, they have sex, in the first of three poorly choreographed sex scenes throughout the movie. The characters don’t even seem to undress to have sex. In this particular one, Jay doesn’t even remove her bra. She is also wearing her panties in the next shot.
Anyway, Hugh then knocks out Jay with chloroform. Jay awakens in an abandoned building, tied to a wheelchair. Hugh shows up and tells her that by having sex with her, he has passed a curse on to her. A being (creature? entity? demon? evil spirit?) will constantly follow her at a walking pace. Slow but steady wins the race. If it catches her, it will kill her, and then go after the person who passed it to her. More on the thing – I will from here on out refer to it as the Follower – later.
Hugh, after showing Jay the Follower (which takes the form of a naked woman, because of course), drops Jay off at her home. The next day at school, and that night at her house, Jay sees the Follower walking toward her. Despite her friends’ attempts to comfort her and tell her that there’s no one there, Jay sees the Follower take the form of an old woman in a nightgown, a fellow college student, a half-naked, bloody, urinating woman, and the Slender Man plus face but sans suit. During the past fifteen minutes, we are introduced to Jay’s friends Yara (Olivia Luccardi), Paul (Keir Gilchrist), and Jay’s sister Kelly (Lili Sepe).
I will be fully and completely honest: the scenes involving the Follower are almost intolerably tense. While not downright terrifying, they are undoubtedly some of the most tense sequences I have ever seen.
Oh my gosh. Run. Run! RUN! AAAH!
It’s on your left. It’s on your left! LOOK, dammit!
Jeez, even just seeing someone walking toward her is tense.
The Follower is a legitimately scary…thing. The fact that it walks rather than runs is questionable, but if anything, it adds to the incredibly creepy and tense atmosphere. It can take the form of a stranger or a loved one, ranging from a child to a woman in her thirties to Jay’s own father to…a naked old man. Ew. It is incredibly strong, borderline indestructible, and fully and completely unstoppable. And you DO NOT want to let it catch up with you. I will explain what happens in a minute.
Anyways, after Jay’s neighbor Greg drives the group to Hugh’s now abandoned house and discover that his real name is Jeff. (Jeff the Killer? No. Definitely not. I always thought that Jeff the Killer was overrated.) The group tracks him down and Jay confronts him. Jeff reveals that he got the curse from a one-night stand and reveals that the only way to even temporarily get rid of the curse is to have sex with someone else.
The group drives to Greg’s lake house, but the Follower remarkably quickly catches up with them and attacks Jay. Jay shoots it, but this only momentarily stops it in its tracks. Jay steals Greg’s car, but after narrowly avoiding hitting a truck, crashes into a cornfield. Jay wakes up in the hospital surrounded by her friends.
Greg has sex with Jay that night, not believing in the curse. This leads to the second poorly choreographed sex scene, in which Greg is not seen removing his jeans, and Jay never removes her hospital gown. It’s like two ragdolls humping each other. It’s the exact opposite of erotic, when a sex scene like this is supposed to be.
Anyways, after Jay and her friends go home, Jay sees the Follower break into Greg’s house. Jay breaks in as well and sees the Follower take the form of Greg’s mother, who is dressed in her underwear and a bathrobe, with one breast exposed. The Follower goes to Greg’s room and knocks on the door with one knock every two-thirds of a second. Greg answers the door, sees his half naked mother, and realizes too late that the Follower has caught up with him. I told you I’d describe what happens if the Follower catches up with you. It jumps on him, kills him, and has sex with his dead body. As if we didn’t already have enough reason to be terrified of the Follower. Apparently the Follower is into necrophilia. Ew. After Jay flees and spends the night on the beach, she meets up with Paul, who offers to have sex with her to take on the curse himself.
The remainder of the group, realizing the seriousness of the situation, plan to kill the Follower by luring it into an abandoned swimming pool and dropping plugged in electrical devices into the water to kill it. On the way to the pool, Jay sees the Follower standing on the roof of her house, taking the form of a naked old man. Ew.
Of COURSE it’s going to be a stormy night! The group lines the electrical appliances around the pool as Jay waits in it. The plan falls apart almost immediately as the Follower, now in the form of Jay’s father, enters the pool and throws the electrical devices at her. Paul throws a blanket over the Follower and shoots it in the head, incapacitating it, and throws it in the pool. The Follower grabs Jay and tries pulling her underwater, but Paul shoots it in the head again, allowing Jay to escape. The Follower disappears in a large cloud of blood.
Jay and Paul go to Jay’s house, where they have sex. The next morning, Paul is seen driving past a pair of prostitutes. We can all guess what happens.
It Follows ends as Jay and Paul walk hand in hand down the street while someone, who is presumably the Follower, walks about 100 feet behind them, doing what it does best.
It Follows had a great setup, but it sort of fell apart at the end. Pity.
One thing I must mention: In two scenes in It Follows, two infamous old movies make cameos: Killers from Space and, I think, The Giant Claw. If you haven’t seen either, go check them out. They’re hilarious.
Does Yara have … an iShell? That’s just weird.
It Follows has a very Napoleon Dynamite feel to it. It’s an amateur storyline, but it is undoubtedly effective.
This movie has a very ‘80s feel to it, especially with the minimalist electronic soundtrack.
The online version of the movie I saw censors nudity. Good for it!
This movie is not so much scary as it is incredibly tense.
Great job, Maika Monroe. This is her second lead role in her now promising career.
It’s not a fantastic movie, but it is undoubtedly smart. It is original (maybe). And above all, it is tense.
It is also the strangest STD metaphor I have ever seen.
Final Verdict: 3.5 out of 5 stars.