It Fol­lows

It Fol­lows , hor­ror, rated R, Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts, 2.5 chiles

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - — Michael Abatemarco

David Robert Mitchell’s atyp­i­cal hor­ror tale is pos­si­bly the best-look­ing of­fer­ing the genre has served in re­cent years. It’s a gor­geous work that pays homage to the hor­ror clas­sics, most no­tably the films of John Car­pen­ter — right down to its 1980s-style synth sound­track — while pre­sent­ing an un­usual take on su­per­nat­u­ral hor­ror: a de­mon that fix­ates on in­di­vid­u­als, stalk­ing them un­til it catches them, un­less the in­tended vic­tim can pass “It” to an­other per­son through sex­ual con­tact.

Al­lu­sions to sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted dis­eases are easy to make, and It Fol­lows does lapse into a moral­ity les­son on the dan­gers of sleep­ing around. But an equally valid in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the film’s over­ar­ch­ing theme is that death it­self is the even­tual mas­ter of us all, which might ex­plain why the crea­ture (what­ever It is: the ex­act na­ture of It is never ex­plained) keeps chang­ing ap­pear­ance but al­ways looks like a per­son — and some­times even like a loved one. The pro­tag­o­nists have an ad­van­tage: It can’t run and can only walk very slowly, giv­ing prey plenty of time to get away. As a con­se­quence, the body count in It Fol­lows re­mains quite low.

The film tells the story of Jay (Maika Mon­roe), a nine­teen-year-old who sleeps with Hugh (Jake Weary) af­ter a date with him. She soon finds her­self on the re­ceiv­ing end of It’s un­wanted ad­vances. There are sev­eral ef­fec­tive shots of strangers (It in dis­guise) haunt­ing Jay, but she’s hard-pressed to con­vince any of her friends that what she sees is real (they can’t see It). In the mean­time, Paul (Keir Gilchrist) has been har­bor­ing a crush on Jay and feels protective of her. (She was the first girl he ever kissed.) The cast of twenty-some­things in­cludes Lili Sepe as Jay’s sis­ter Kelly, Olivia Luc­cardi as Yara, and Daniel Zo­vatto as Greg, who com­petes with Paul for Jay’s at­ten­tions. Sym­pa­thy builds among Jay’s friends, who be­come in­creas­ingly con­vinced of her story when they begin to see some sub­stan­ti­at­ing ev­i­dence them­selves.

Though It Fol­lows ratch­ets up the ten­sion in its first few min­utes, just when the level should con­tinue to climb, it plateaus. Even It, which is fright­en­ing at first, be­comes such an ex­pected com­po­nent in later scenes that the scares be­come un­der­whelm­ing. This isn’t helped by clunky pac­ing — par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the cli­max, which takes place in an aban­doned public pool. Strate­gi­cally com­posed wide shots early on trick view­ers into scan­ning ev­ery frame in search of the one thing that seems off. The ten­sion peters out al­to­gether in the film’s fi­nal mo­ments, just when it should be reach­ing a fever pitch. It Fol­lows is a pared-down hor­ror tale that of­fers no real so­lu­tions to the dilemma of Jay and her friends, though it does sug­gest that, de­spite the in­evitabil­ity of death, we go on.

We gotta get out of this place: Maika Mon­roe

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