Monday 13 July 2015

It Follows

I love horror. Whether it's through reading some H.P Lovecraft or Stephen King, exploring the dark and twisted worlds of games like Silent Hill 2 and Siren: Blood Curse or watching classic films like The Exorcist and The Shining, I love to be scared and terrified. I love all kinds of horror films though. From horror films that are cheesy and over-the-top to ones that are gruesome and shocking, I love them all. But my favourite type are the ones that are understated, sink in after watching them, never quite show too much and ultimately play on our innate human fears. When I heard about It Follows it sounded like it was right down my alley, and while it does tick a lot of the right boxes for the kind of horror film I usually love, I didn't get much from it.

Directed by David Robert Mitchell and out now on Blu-Ray and DVD comes It Follows, a film that fails to follow up on the promises it makes on its superb set-up and its excellent opening scene. The plot to It Follows it one of its best assets, and at its it's heart is pretty simplistic. After having sex with a guy she's been seeing for awhile, the protagonist, Jay, is knocked out using chloroform by the same guy she just slept with. She wakes up tied to a wheelchair in an abandoned building. The guy she was just with, Jeff, tells her he's not going to hurt her and that all he wants her to do is listen to him. He explains to her that by having sex he has passed a curse onto her, a curse that someone else passed onto him through sex previously. The result of the curse is that the person who has it is followed by an entity, some kind of force that takes the form of random people, unknown or known to the cursed individual. If this entity reaches the cursed person they die and the entity will return to the person who was cursed previously. As Jeff is explaining this to a traumatised Jay, a naked woman slowly approaches them. It's the entity, and after dropping her off back home, Jay slowly comes to terms with the curse that has been put upon her. It Follows centres around Jay's struggle to survive against this entity, her attempts to pass it on to someone else and, alongside her friends, her bid to try and kill the seemingly unstoppable force.

There are elements of It Follows that are perfect. For instance, Maika Monroe who plays Jay is fantastic here, and she delivers a performance that's both honest and easy to relate with. She essentially carries the film throughout its running time, and stands out among the rest of the cast.  There are no real weak links in the cast though, but Monroe stands head and shoulders above the rest. Then you have the bloody great soundtrack by Disasterpeace (Richard Vreeland), which is very much in the vein of a classic 80's horror flick, what with its lovely use of synthesisers and the like. You also have the simplistic and unnerving set-up for the film, and the fact that the entity comes in the form of a person slowly walking towards the victim. It doesn't sound that scary on paper, but the scenes in which it turns up are pretty chilling, as you really do get a sense that though slow, this thing will never stop- ever. The only way to stop it is to pass it on, which that in itself raises all kinds of disturbing moral questions.

It Follows' opening shot is incredible, and features a scantily clad girl running from something, which you find out pretty early on is this entity. During this scene the camera never cuts away and effectively stays motionless but focuses on the girl as she runs and walks around the stationary camera. The entity is pursuing her and after she jumps into her car to escape, the scene then cuts to the beach. She's alone and scared, and leaves a message for her father on the phone. We then get a sudden cut to her body on the beach, her limbs broken, bloody and bent. It's an absolutely shockingly disturbing opening scene, but after such a strong start It Follows slowly begins to unravel. Listen, I like my horror films cerebral, but despite a lot of the pieces being in place here to deliver an incredible horror experience, It Follows meanders, aimlessly moves its characters from scene to scene, contains long drawn out scenes of little or no dialogue, and ultimately doesn't really go anywhere in terms of story. Yes, some scenes are absolutely brilliant, but It Follows is not as good as it should be.

I won't give any spoilers, but by the time Jay and her friends decide to try and kill/destroy the entity I just didn't care any more. Maybe I didn't care because there's no logic to their method of vanquishing the entity. Maybe I didn't care because by the finale I was kind of bored of the entity and its appearances. Or maybe I was just sick and tired of the potential It Follows does its best to demolish from after its opening shot, slowly until the credits start to roll. Regardless, It Follows is one of those films that's getting a lot of praise that I just don't get. I went into really digging it, but it just did nothing for me. It Follows looks stunning. Its soundtrack has been on loop here for the past 6 hours. Maika Monroe is phenomenal in it. The entity itself is a compelling concept. But despite all of that praise I could give It Follows, I wouldn't suggest you definitely watch it. For a film so clearly inspired by horror films of the 70's and 80's both in terms of visuals and its soundtrack, its script doesn't even try and emulate what made some of those classic horror flicks so good- a worthwhile story and an entertaining plot. Then again, I'm sure It Follows will be debated in film classes and Starbucks' across the world about its possible interpretations, mostly by dudes wearing scarfs in summer and drinking latte's out of kilner jars. So I dunno, maybe I'm just wrong. There's greatness to be seen here, but not without a nice helping of boredom.

It Follows has far too many boring scenes book-ending great ones. 3/5.


Denis Murphy

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