31 Days of Halloween — Day 28: It Follows (2015) — by Dr. Shock

hmp-it-followsEditor’s note: Dave “Dr. Shock” Becker is a host on Horror Movie Podcast and the Land of the Creeps horror podcast. He is also the mastermind behind DVDInfatuation.com, a movie review blog where he is watching and posting one review every day until he reaches at least 2,500 movie reviews. Follow Doc on Twitter: @DVDinfatuation.


 

It’s out there, trying to get you. It moves slowly… methodically… but it knows exactly where you are. And it’s coming… it’s always coming. If you drive a hundred miles away, you can buy yourself a little time, but it will eventually find you. You can send it after someone else, but once it catches that person (whoever it may be), it will chase you again. This is the basic concept behind writer / director David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows, as well as the reason it’s such an incredibly unnerving horror film.

Jay (Maika Monroe), an average teenage girl from the suburbs of Detriot, has her life turned upside-down following a single night of passion with her new boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary). As it turns out, Hugh was being followed by a dangerous entity intent on killing him. By having sex with Jay, he “passed” this entity (which is invisible to everybody else in the world) on to her. Hugh tells Jay that, if she wants to survive, she, too, will have to sleep with someone, and that she should do it sooner than later (if the creature should kill Jay before she does so, then it would again start chasing Hugh).

hough not initially convinced that Hugh is telling the truth, Jay soon discovers the threat is very real, and turns to her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and their friends Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and Yara (Olivia Luccardi) for help. Once she realizes that the creature won’t stop following her, Jay wrestles with the idea of having sex with someone else. But can she, in good conscience, pass this curse on to an innocent person, or will Jay instead find a way to defeat the monster before it gets her?

Throughout It Follows, director Mitchell employs a number of long, uninterrupted shots designed to build up the tension in each scene. In the opening sequence, a young woman named Annie (Bailey Spry) darts out of her house and into the middle of the road. The camera doesn’t cut away; it stays with Annie as she looks around nervously, acting like she is running from something, and even though we see nothing chasing her, nor have any idea what’s going on at this point in the movie, the panic in Annie’s eyes is enough to bring us to the edge of our seats.

The cast, as a whole, does a fine job, especially Maika Monroe as Jay, the teenager unwittingly tossed into the middle of a nightmare. Yet it’s the monster itself that makes It Follows such a creepy motion picture. Much like Jason in the Friday the 13th series, this entity is in no hurry. It walks, ever so slowly, towards you, taking the form of a different person each time, yet still moving in a manner that is unmistakably menacing. Even more unsettling is the fact it never stops chasing you. After one particularly close call, Jay, Kelly, and the others, along with Jay’s neighbor Greg (Danile Zovatto), head to a remote beach house, which, considering it took an entire night to get there, is presumably very far away. After a few days pass, Jay begins to relax and let her guard down. As a result, she almost pays the ultimate price.

That is what makes It Follows such an unforgettable horror film: no matter how far you run, this creature is out there, and it is coming to get you. Stylish and clever, It Follows is, from start to finish, a nerve-racking experience.

— Dr. Shock


Don’t miss Jay of the Dead and Wolfman Josh’s audio review of It Follows on Horror Movie Podcast Episode 50.

Links for Dr. Shock:
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Dr. Shock also appears on this horror podcast: Land of the Creeps

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5 thoughts on “31 Days of Halloween — Day 28: It Follows (2015) — by Dr. Shock

  1. What a coincidence…

    —SPOILERS BELOW—

    Day 28 – It Follows (2014)

    To some extent, It Follows is responsible for me getting back out there and seeing movies in the theater again. I was regularly going to the theater in the mid 2000’s, but had stopped for whatever reason with the exception of special events (IE. Going with a family member every year to see the latest Hobbit movie). It Follows changed all of that. Part of it is because It Follows was THE horror movie to watch in 2015. It was the most talked about movie and if you were choosing to skip over it, you were missing out on a rare movie that joined the ranks of the original Paranormal Activity and select others as being a horror that you just had to watch. The other reason why I just had to go watch It Follows is because of it’s unique handling. For awhile, it was scheduled to just be a VOD release. Just before it’s release date, things changed and the only watch to watch the movie was to go to the theater and see it in person. A part of me actually hopes that this last minute change was done by design because it would be a BRILLIANT move. The fact that they changed things at the last minute so you couldn’t watch the movie in your pajamas while sitting on your couch to having to actually put on proper clothes and go to your local theater to see the film is such an action where all you can do is throw something at your wall and scream “Screw it, I’ll see it in the theater then!”

    Without question, the strongest aspect of It Follows was the soundtrack. It’s an amazing soundtrack and the type that would make complete sense to download (legally of course) after seeing the movie just to have a fantastic piece of atmospheric music to listen to in the background. I know that’s what I did. With this being the first time that I watched It Follows at home, it benefited greatly from my freshly bought soundbar. Blasting the soundbar, the movie became terrifying due to the soundtrack. It reminds me of some of my first times watching the original Halloween. The soundtrack ends up being scarier than what you’re watching on the screen.

    I loved the mystery early on. In the first scene, the viewer isn’t given any answers. Instead, all we see is some unknown girl that is visibly upset about something. Every time someone asks if someone is wrong or if she needs help, she denies it. This girl ends up on the beach, leaving a message for her father that sounded more like a suicide message than anything else. Yet, by morning, we’re shown her corpse and it’s obvious that this girl wasn’t suicidal, someone killed her. However, the mystery isn’t all solved at this point. Once we’re introduced to Hugh, we’re left wondering if the main problem is psychological based. I loved the scene with Hugh knocking Jay out with a rag of chloroform. It’s a complete shock because the viewers do not understand his motivations. They just had consensual sex, so clearly he’s not planning on sexually assaulting her. The only thing that makes sense in that moment is that Huge plans on something far sinister. Instead, the real truth comes out and it’s an even bigger surprise. For the first half hour or so of It Follows, it’s all one giant mystery and you don’t know what to believe.

    The first time I watched It Follows, I found Paul to be a fairly likable character. This poor putz was so crazy for Jay, a girl way out of his league, that he was willing to risk his life just to get her. While that sounds all good, this time around, my opinions of Paul was different. I couldn’t help but to see Paul as a somewhat unlikable guy. While Jay is going through this horrific experience, all Paul seems concerned about is finally being able to get in her pants. At no time did I ever feel as if Paul truly cared about Jay with this most recent view. Instead, he just seems slightly obsessed with her, quickly becoming jealous of the closeness between Jay and Greg, seemingly only because he wants to be the one to sleep with Jay, not Greg. By the end of the film, I see Paul as someone who merely took advantage of Jay, rather than be someone that was actually supportive of her. With that being said, Paul is actually one of the main reasons why I’d be curious to watch It Follows in the future. Will my opinion of Paul continue to change with each additional view?

    The invisibility of the antagonist in It Follows was an interesting move. In theory, it does add to the fright. Not only is this…thing going to be walking towards you while possibly not looking like a threat, but others won’t even be able to see it. The problem is that any time I’ve seen negative talk about It Follows, it’s based around the cheesiness of an invisible enemy. I’ve read a lot of reviews putting down the big pool scene at the end, but with this watch, that scene didn’t seem cheesy. The corniness for me occurred on the beach when Paul swung a beach chair at nothing and was sent hurtling backwards by nothing. I’m not sure if there’s a way to have an invisible enemy without risking some slight cheesiness in seeing the other interact with it. With that being said, if It Follows was a story or an audio drama, it would have still worked without any problems.

    In recent years, I’ve become a fan of movies and TV shows that blur the lines in when the story takes place. The first time I can really remember seeing this and it being effective was in the first few episodes of Bates Motel. I loved the concept of presenting a story where it doesn’t feel truly old thanks to modern additions to the film/series, but then there’s also a lot of older elements to keep it from strictly taking place in today’s world. In It Follows, there seems to be a deliberate attempt to do just this. Throughout the film, one of Jay’s friends, Yara, is constantly on her clam shaped e-reader. Yet, whenever a character is watching TV, it’s an old fashioned CRT television, typically playing an old black-and-white movie. Even the characters seem to be split between being from the past and current. I thought Jeff and Kelly were dressed as if they fit in today’s world while the other characters were dressed in older clothes. Paul was particularly interesting because at the very end of the film as the final scene shows him looking a bit more modern than he had looks previously in the film. It’ll be interesting to watch It Follows in the future to see if it avoids feeling dated due to it borrowing from different time periods.

    To some degree, I find It Follows to be comparable to a zombie movie. At one point, Hugh makes the best case for still appreciating slow moving zombies in this day and age where if you watch a zombie movie, it could very easily showcase fast moving ones. Essentially, while you can always get away from a slow moving zombie, it’s still coming for you. It may be slow, but you will always have to be looking over your shoulder to see if it’s coming up from behind. It doesn’t even matter where you are, you’re not even save in your own home. The “Zombie” will get inside and could easily get you if you’re not aware of your surroundings. It’s this fact that It Follows reminds me a little of Halloween. You can either be like Annie and Lynda and not be alert enough to notice a maniac with a knife stalking you or you can be like Laurie and keeps your eyes open and hope that you can survive this unstoppable force. Considering one of the main slasher rules is that you can’t have sex without being at risk of being killed off, It Follows is a more literal example of that rule. If you have sex with the wrong person in It Follows, you’re not risking the chance of a killer coming after you, you’re guaranteeing it.

    Overall, I ranked It Follows as my #1 horror movie of 2015 and I had it in my top 5 for overall movies as well. I’m quite pleased to see that it not only held up from my theatrical experience, but I think I actually dug it a little more watching it from home. Early on, it’s a fantastic mystery story that keeps you watching so you can learn what’s actually going on. Despite obviously going into this watch knowing all of the spoilers, I was still glued to the TV screen. Although it’s still a recent movie, I’d rank It Follows’ soundtrack as being one of the best you can find in a horror movie. When talking about the best music in horror, you’re going to talk about films like Halloween, but It Follows should be one of the first movies brought up as well. For me, the only potential problem in the entire film was the invisible nature of the entity. It Follows is simply a terrifying film that leaves you feeling exhausted due to never being able to feel the characters are safe in the film.

    Rating: 9.5/10

  2. Yay! A two-fer!

    Sal, if you’re wondering about cheese-less fights with invisible adversaries, check out this art exhibit: http://www.totalprosports.com/2016/10/18/boxers-fighting-invisible-men-art-exhibit-videos/

    It Follows was such a good movie. I was far more creeped out by the slowly-advancing villain than the actual conflict scenes. Yeesh, now I’m sitting in my office looking over my shoulder every ten seconds as I type this.

  3. Doc, I’m glad you finally got to see this one. I love it so much that it’s already firmly in my top 10 horror movies OF ALL TIME (slotting in at #6 at the moment). Not necessarily a perfect movie, but one of the most effective movies I’ve ever seen.

  4. I enjoyed your review of the movie, as well as everyone’s comments. I was eager to see this movie after I first heard Jay and Josh’s review on the podcast. I must admit, that I was slightly underwhelmed on my first viewing, yet I found myself still thinking about it several days later. I had a similar experience with David Fincher’s excellent “Seven” years before. This made me realize that a second viewing of “It Follows” was warranted, and I found myself really appreciating the film. There’s great subtext in this film, along with the moral quandry that the characters face, and man do I love that ending!

  5. Day 28: 31 (2016)
    Rating: 7/10

    I kinda liked this film, which is basically the Hunger Games. The first film I watched this month was The Lords of Salem so this was a welcomed Rob Zombie offering. I like Rob best when he doesn’t try too hard and just sticks to making horror in his 70’s-white-trash-carnival style.

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