American suburbs and crunchy autumn leaves set the scene for David Robert Mitchell’s second feature film. Like so many great stalker horrors before it, the film opens with a teen girl bursting from her house onto the street. She’s being followed but it is not apparent by who or what. The camera pans around the street as our damsel frantically flees. The threat is inside her house but it never emerges. There is a great homage paid to Halloween in these opening moments, a tribute that remains strong throughout It Follows. We spend a lot of time with characters walking up and down streets, playing card games on their porches and watching black and white B-movies on television. Much like Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides, there are hardly any adults to be seen – that is, it you’re one of the lucky ones. Parents drink themselves into early evening stupors and leave their young to make their own fun. This absence of the adult and the themes of sex that run through It Follows make it one of the most unconventional and original horror flicks of 2015. Jay is 19. She’s dating and she’s free. Her autumn grows much more chilly when a sexual encounter leaves her with a sense that she is being followed. She is now part of a sexually-transmitted chain of unfortunate events. She is constantly being followed by a deadly shape-shifting entity that nobody else can see. Jay must pass on the post-coital curse to another victim before she’s caught up with and killed.
This is a film about rules and not resolutions. Michael Myers never runs and never speaks; when he does, it’s in reboots and sequels that lack all of John Carpenter’s sinister magic. David Robert Mitchell complies to his own rules as religiously as Carpenter – making this a film with conviction, vintage appeal and consistency. It Follows is scary because there is one threat and one threat alone. It never runs, it never adapts. If it gained speed and multiplied then all of the artistry would be lost. It Follows reminds us why simplicity is scary and why the old ones are the best. The film is rich in greens and oranges, celebrating Autumn – the season of Halloween and retro-horror. It Follows looks great. The camera turns and twists; encouraging our terror. Characters are always seated in ways that have us looking over their shoulder for them. If the visuals don’t remind you of seventies horror movies then the score definitely will. Synthesisers scream and drones roll on, creating a constant suspense in the haunting atmosphere. It Follows is not for everyone. It is full of jumps and dread; leaving you with many unanswered questions. I can see why contemporary cinema-goers may take against it. Perhaps its very faint explanations and conclusions are too frustrating for most. I admire anything innovative and original that’s brought to horror – the most recycled and regurgitated of all the genres. It was refreshing to boycott the set-ups and the wooden justifications. This is also a film about sex. Not just because of what sex causes but how sex is used by the characters. It is a defence, a weapon and a tool for survival. By simplifying in order to traumatise, It Follows is cinematic contraception for a new generation.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.