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