Review: It Follows (Movie)

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Title: It Follows
Release Date: March 13, 2015
Studio: RADiUS
Director: David Robert Mitchell
Main Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe
Genre: Thriller/Drama/Horror
MPAA Rating: NR
Runtime: 100 Mins.
Country: USA
Language: English
A pre-release screening was provided by the studio for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this movie is available on Episode 411 of the podcast.

The Movie
It Follows comes, quite literally, from the mind of writer, director David Robert Mitchell. As a child, Mitchell had a recurring nightmare about a horrifying creature following him, always after him and it always looked like a person. With the idea knocking around in his head all these years, he finally decided to put pen to paper and let us in on the horror. What’s really interesting about the subject matter and its genesis is how well it translates to film.

The story focuses on Jay, a 19-year-old from suburban Detroit played by Maika Monroe. From the moment she first appears on screen, we see that this is someone very much in tune with her surroundings, watching the ant on her arm, catching the neighbor boys peeping on her in the pool. She recently started dating an older guy named Hugh (Jake Weary) and things seem to be going well until…

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Without spoiling much that isn’t in the trailer below, after one of their dates, Jay wakes up tied to a chair in an abandoned factory where Hugh begins to tell her about a creature that’s going to follow her. It was following him and now he’s passed it to her, just as it had been passed to him. It can look like anyone, even someone she knows and she can’t let it get to her. If it gets hold of her, she’s dead. It’s slow but it’s not dumb and wherever it is it’s walking straight for her, always walking.

 

Creepy doesn’t even begin to describe what happens next. The fact that Jay is the only who can see the monster only helps add to the scare factor. Her friends don’t believe her but they want to help her. Sitting in the audience, you’ll constantly be scanning the out of focus backgrounds of scenes looking for anything out of the ordinary. The camerawork is fantastic throughout the film. The entire opening scene is one long, continuous take with the camera circling around the area, zooming in and out, and building a palpable tension.

Later in the film there’s a scene where the camera sits on a fixed point making several revolutions in a slow 360-degree turn giving the viewer a terrifying look at the world around our main characters while they themselves are oblivious to what’s happening close by.

… It can look like anyone …
We get a lot of this during the movie but it’s never over-used. Whether it’s a closeup or a wide shot there’s a tension being built by what you can or sometimes can’t see. It’s a gimmick for sure, but a brilliant one and a nice change from the types of horror movies we’ve been seeing over the past ten years or so.

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The pacing is fantastic too, allowing the audience to slow down and catch their breath in a natural way during those times when Jay is able to put some distance between herself and the monster. The editing relies more on building tension slowly rather than cheap gimmicks but there are a few “jump” moments to be had. There are even a few genuine laughs built in to help break things up and they work really well.

The slower pace of the movie also gives you time to appreciate the nuanced performances being given by the young cast, especially Monroe as Jay. She goes from quiet, easygoing, and in touch with the world around her to frazzled, terrified, and desperate. Even in those brief times where she could potentially relax there’s an edge to her and you really feel the nightmare that she’s going through.

The music is a throwback to horror films of the early eighties with heavy synth riffs. It’s a little loud at times, at least it was in my screening, but it really helps give the film a timeless quality. There’s nothing really in the dialogue, clothing, or set design that could place it in any specific time frame. The only thing that could give it away is a small piece of technology being carried by one of the girls. Otherwise the story could easily be set in the late seventies or early eighties.

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Conclusion:
How does a movie feel both familiar and fresh all at the same time? It Follows manages to walk that line between folklore and reality in a way that really draws the viewer in. The ebb and flow of the tension will keep you invested in the characters and their fate right to the end of the movie.

The main crew of the film spent a lot of time early in production looking at classic horror films and they really took lessons from all of them, crafting a suspense filled, timeless tale and easily one of the best movies in the genre to come along in the past few years. It’ll stick with you long after the credits roll.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the studio.

Written by Josh Langford

Josh Langford

Josh has been gaming since 1977 starting with the Atari 2600.
He currently owns 25 different consoles and 6 different handhelds (all hooked up and in working condition) including all consoles from the current generation – minus the Switch.

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  • ChazzH69

    This is one of the few horror films that I actually want to see. Great review Josh.