Year – 2014
Country – USA
Production Companies – Northern Lights Films (presents), Animal Kingdom (production), Two Flints (in association with)
Writer – David Robert Mitchell
Director – David Robert Mitchell
Cast – Maika Monroe (Jay), Keir Gilchrist (Paul), Olivia Luccardi (Yara), Lili Sepe (Kelly), Daniel Zovatto (Greg)
The teen horror genre has been somewhat neglected over recent years. For a while, it was awful remake followed by an even worse remake sequel, and it looked like it could never be revived in America – especially with the found footage horror invasion.
It seems, however, that a few American writers and directors refuse to give up on the possibility that a teen horror movie can still be a great movie, and many have crowned It Follows one of the best offerings from the genre in recent memory.
Writer and director David Robert Mitchell’s story starts with Jay (Monroe), a young, attractive girl who is excited for her first date with her crush (Jake Weary). As they sit down in the movie theatre it all seems to be going well, but suddenly her date becomes nervous and ushers her away back to the car. The two park up somewhere and have sex, and Jay opens up to him about how good it feels to be at this stage in her life.
The next thing she knows, Jay is tied to a wheelchair, listening to the explanation that from now on, something horrible will follow her until she passes it along to someone else through sex. She is forced to see it to believe it, and is quickly dumped on her front lawn and left in the hands of her sister and two close friends. Jay must then decide how to cope with the imminent threat, consider whether she can pass it on, or try and face it herself.
There are so many things I admire about It Follows.
Firstly, the music. For me, this was the stand out element of Mitchell’s film. Clearly inspired by horror movies of the 70s and 80s, but updated for a modern audience, the music by Disasterpiece is unsettling and utterly perfect for each moment. It is an absolute triumph and works in a nostalgic way for those of us watching who couldn’t call ourselves modern teens. I am assuming Mitchell had some involvement alongside Disasterpiece to create the soundtrack, and I really appreciate the efforts they went to. I would go as far as saying it is one of my favourite film soundtracks.
Secondly, the direction. Visually, It Follows is a gem to watch. It is so carefully constructed, and blends indie style with b-movie sentiments and polished horror nastiness. Mitchell is astoundingly talented as a director and the praise for the film is not without merit.
Thirdly, the acting. It’s been a long time since I watched a teen horror movie that was populated with actors who didn’t act like they were acting in a teen horror movie. The casting is perfect. Monroe, who helms the film and has the most ‘horror’ acting to do, is authentic to the bone. There’s no overacting here, no stage acting or exaggeration. You will believe them.
But, this is me, and I rarely only have praise for a film.
I think, perhaps, I am too old for the genre now. I didn’t find a single moment scary or ‘chilling’ as it has been referred to in other reviews. Mitchell orchestrates a chilling atmosphere, but the story wasn’t sold on me.
I make the point of saying this because the Telegraph called It Follows: ‘A horror fan’s dream come true’.
I just don’t agree with that.
It Follows is such a great film, but I wouldn’t say it is the best the genre has to offer. I don’t think anyone who has seen the Cronenberg, Lynch and Carpenter films Mitchell has been influenced by would find this scary, and I’m not confident they would call it a dream come true. The artistry, acting and direction from Mitchell are all outstanding, but the story lacks towards the middle and it struggled to keep my attention. Like I said, perhaps this is because I am no longer a teenager and sex is less of a mystery to me.
As I’m writing this review, I don’t remember much of the plot, but I do remember the music and how well made it is. I think that says a lot.
I feel the same way about Mitchell as I do about Ti West, another American horror movie director I’ve reviewed before – they are the future. Their talent is exciting and they wear the history of horror cinema on their sleeve with pride. I will always wait in anticipation for the moment they both release their masterpiece, and I really hope they do.