Pat Benetar was right, but what ELSE are you going to use as a weapon?
Jay (Maika Monroe) is a pretty young woman residing in Detroit dating a mysterious new local guy named Hugh (Jake Weary). On the night after they have sex for the first time, Hugh knocks her out, binds her to a chair, and says he’s “helping her.” Something is coming for Jay because she had sex with Hugh, and it will kill her if it can reach her – unless she has sex with someone else to pass the curse along. Here’s the kicker: if she fails to do this before it succeeds, the thing comes back to stalk and kill the one who passed it on. It can look like anyone dead or alive, presumably something disturbing, but it never runs…and it never stops.
Stop worrying about what will happen if you watch forbidden video tapes or play with witch boards; this film is all about doing it and paying for it…forever. With a surprisingly competent cast of young actors, It Follows manages an incredible amount of creep on a small budget with a high concept. This isn’t to say it’s all perfect, but for all its flaws, it’s both memorable and controversial, inspiring the kind of water cooler horror-fan talk that the The Ring managed to generate before it was diluted with all the sequels. Like all good first films, no explanation is given for how this thing got started, but that doesn’t stop our cast of potential victims from trying and failing spectacularly to survive.
While the film is set in Detroit, the production design seems nonspecific; the televisions look old yet everyone has modern mobile phones – it’s kind of weird. The music was a bit blaring (credited to “Disasterpeace”) but must have been deliberate, an intentional homage to 1980s horror films; the beginning strains almost sound like Blade Runner, but it didn’t really add anything to the film and often distracted from it. There were also a number of 360-degree camera shots that sometimes worked (the opening sequence) but more often just made viewers dizzy. Finally, the lack of adults throughout the film almost felt ridiculous, as if these late teens were trusted on their own to go off to family vacation homes and elsewhere at anytime – never mind where all the money for gas, beer, ammo, or any other incidentals was coming from.
In spite of the hit-or-miss oddities and underutilized secondary characters, there’s an intimacy with this concept that most slasher and similar horror films shy away from: once you start having sex, you’ll die if you stop! And before you start thinking there’s gratuitous nudity a’plenty, everything that gets shown is horrific. This calls into question plenty of morals, whether you’re the good girl or the bad boy; how far will you go to survive, and how many people will die because you want to live? It’s the gift that keeps on giving, a love letter to mid-80s horror – even if it’s a bit rough around the edges. The buzz around the community is a bit polarizing – viewers either seem to love it or hate it – but remember: if you choose to screw, keep doing it…or you’ll REALLY be screwed.
(a two and a half skull recommendation out of four)