<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by David Robert Mitchell. Starring Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Lili Sepe, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi
This over-hyped scary movie has an interestingly simple premise that veers away from the clichéd haunted house story. It also has an amazing soundtrack that probably evokes fifty per cent of the fear factor.
Scary movies are so much fun when they’re good. But over the last few years there have been so many that simply use the same genre gimmicks to scare you with the sound shocks, the doors creaking and the standard scary little girl with long hair. So when a fright film like It Follows comes along it’s only natural that the critics would be raving about it. And while it is a nice departure from the cliché, I’d hardly call It Follows a classic.
The story opens on a scary enough scene that shows a girl run out of her house in her lingerie obviously scared out of her wits by something. She gets in her car and drives to the beach where the next morning she is seen mangled to death by the seashore.
Then you go back in time (though there’s no time stamp ala ‘6 months ago’ or anything) where we meet our protagonist Jay Height (Maika Monroe) who has had a couple of dates with a boy (Jake Weary) who eventually has sex with her in his car and then knocks her out with chloroform. When she awakens, she’s strapped in a wheel chair in an abandoned parking lot. The boy tells her he had to do it as he wanted to pass ‘it’ on to her. A mysterious spirit will now follow her from time to time, he explains; it will take the form of a stranger or someone she knows and walk slowly towards her. If it touches her it’ll kill her and if it does it’ll kill all the previous people who it followed before her, which is why she has to run from it and pass it (by having sex with someone) on to someone else before it gets her.
Jay has no family except a mother who seems to be drunk and out of it. So she takes comfort in her friends (played by Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi and Daniel Zovatto) and her younger sister (Lily Sepe) who quickly believe her story and help her find out more about this spectre that sometimes is a tall male figure that looks like a slim Frankenstein, at others an old woman with a limp and then a naked man. The filmmaker uses this technique of the stranger who follows interestingly making you look behind the characters in a scene to see whether the person in the background is approaching menacingly or is just an extra going about their business.
What creates that air of tension is the movie’s dramatic soundtrack by Rich Vreeland (credited as Disasterpeace). The synthesizer music is reminiscent of 80s films and runs through It Follows with an eerie presence. Unfortunately, the visuals in the film don’t always match the music. The characters aren’t that interesting or aren’t doing anything that unique. Still, it’s a stroke of brilliance to have this style of sound and probably the main reason for the film’s surprise success.
There are plenty of strangely antiquated set pieces like the old TVs showing black and white sci-fi monster films. And these share space with high-tech gizmos like the one Yara (Olivia Luccardi) has to read her book The Idiot on: a clamshell make-up compact that looks like an Apple device. It’s a mix of nostalgia and intrigue that gels perfectly.
But It Follows tends to get a bit lost in its narrative flow. The plot point about the ‘curse’ being passed on if she has sex with someone else gets a bit confusing as she sleeps with two boys, one who she chooses and the other who she takes pity on.
Many critics have read deeper meaning into the context and undercurrents of the film but I really didn’t see any of that. It Follows is a movie that goes in the right direction of what scary movies should be like. It isn’t perfect nor is it a classic but I’m hoping more ‘scary’ movie filmmakers take a cue and start giving us something original instead of the same old crap we’re getting sick and tired of.