A simple premise, a haunting score, and some good scare jumps can make all the difference in David Robert Mitchell’s indie horror movie It Follows, showcasing another rough modern diamond for a Halloween fright fest.
(USA 2015, director: David Robert Mitchell)
After a brief sexual encounter and an innocent date, a young girl is soon chased by a supernatural force that takes many human forms, and it’s up to her group of friends to help her out.
It’s difficult to be innovative in the horror genre, as it usually boils down to frighten the audience with jumpscares or unsettling fear of the unknown. Even if It Follows relies heavily on 80s slasher movies with its wide and long camera shots and sudden appearances of people who want to grab the heroine, it still feels more original than the psycho drama approach of The Babadook. It might be unfair to compare these two at first, but looking closer one finds some similarities.
The movie is slow-paced and focuses on an entity that could appear out of nowhere as different people. So almost anyone walking towards the protagonists can be a threat. The camera is unpredictable, as it often follows them without showing what’s behind them. In other instances it does, with the heroine unaware that a person moves closer. And then there are those few instances when someone appears right from behind the other characters, as the idea of them not seeing it is another creepy touch. As suspenseful and frightening as it sounds, boredom sadly sets in too often.
The reason for this isn’t simply that there are too many scenes with people sitting, walking or driving around, but it’s found in the dialogues and characterizations. Trying hard to make their teenage lives interesting and their language realistic, the director/writer ends up with just a lot of small talk with only a few glimpses of interesting anecdotes or memories, so it’s difficult to relate to these people. It doesn’t help that the soundtrack is mesmerizing in a lullaby way. However, when the chasing sequences reach the confrontation stage, the score suddenly becomes very disturbing with louder noises and thumping bass segments, and it’s here where the film succeeds in creating both tension and terror. It might not be the most original or frightening movie ever made, nor is it a good teenage drama, but at least it does a pretty good job of recreating the feeling of being followed and terrified without the use of too many special effects.
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Scary, but also has something to say, which makes it better than most horror. Nice review.
Thanks for the comment and liking the review, despite the low score I gave the movie. It’s true that it has a message, but I think there are more movies that did it better, like “The Shining” (although that one is overrated as well) or “We Need To Talk About Kevin”, not actually a horror movie, but with a very annoying kid, and much more powerful in its message.
Oh sorry, I mixed up this comment on “It Follows” with “The Babadook”! Of course mine doesn’t make much sense then ;). But still, there have been other movies that succeeded in telling a better coming-of-age story with a horror twist, e.g. “Excision”. That one was pretty great and was more like a drama without the boring parts.
Agree that this was a good but not great horror film. For me the biggest issue was how much it dragged in the middle. Cutting out everything between the lake house and the swimming pool would have improved it immensely. Still the perfect ending though.
Can’t agree more with the movie having some serious pacing issues. Tried to be too much of a drama without any real depth to the characters. And yes, the ending couldn’t have been better.
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