It takes a lot to give me goosebumps at the movies. Plenty make me jump and shout, but finding true shivers can seem so few and far between, almost a faint glimpse at a bygone genre, thanks to an overwhelming reliance on sensory over story… for suspense nowadays, the HARSH CHORDS STRIKE at every terrifying edit, which might as well be a fire alarm for your sanity. This is a film that conjures fear from within, then doubles down once it’s standing right in front of you.
SPOILERS!!! You’ve been warned…
It Follows’ story scares you on its own merit without relying overly on gore, but such scattered moments of gruesome death are strong enough to fill the large gaps in between. It’s like the opening to Jaws; once you’ve seen the shark in action, the threat was immediately understood. It Follows has a monster of its own… almost a walking curse, as the demon is only summoned to vanquish thee if brought upon by committing the most carnal act of all… sex!
Yes, red hot romance is a staple of teen slasher flicks and is found to be woven quite nicely into the story here, as the villain is essentially passed along as an STD. It Follows isn’t a movie to promote any one type of contraception though, but an outright abstinence, as most people will leave this movie and worry “what if?!” at some point to themselves. My biggest creative takeaway from this incredibly original story is the very unique type of villain itself, especially with the timelessness of it all. This dreaded, undying type of curse / virus / creature could have been sneaking around and knocking off such shamelessly perverted proponents of promiscuity since the Dark Ages!
From a production standpoint, this was pretty independent; overflowing with zoom lenses and widely extended pans, almost an air of VHS (format, not film) to it when viewed on a big screen… but these qualities, while conceivably perceived as flaws by today’s big-budget cinematography, in truth only reinforce the endlessly eerie vibe that is so effective within It Follows, as it’s quite unlike anything else you’ve seen before (or at least in my own recent memory).
And the pans… oh, the pans! (that’s when you re-position the camera’s to the left or the right while still rolling… a tilt is strictly up and down… although, time and again you’ll find someone “panning up and down” all weekend…) Regardless, the 360 pans, especially on the moving and zooming camera, work well to keep an edge of suspense and “clearing the area of danger” before we can settle into a scene. The film holds a quickened pace for other miscellaneous scenes and moments of in-between, quickly getting us from one set of impending doom to the next, even bringing back the cross-dissolve! Haven’t seen so many in one place since film school! I’m not a huge fan of them in It Follows, but I’ll admit, it kind of makes me want to bring back a few myself next time.
I mocked the digital zoom earlier, and while it does read quite obviously digital, it’s further supported by a massively-droned score, but in the absolute best way you can imagine. Its extension of shot length and time between edits really draws out tension, which we hinge on delicately, and it comes quite frequently… a lot of sensory red herrings… ‘cuz ya never know when that thing’s coming to get ya! But at least it’s not that obnoxiously overdone, sudden audio slice whenever the neighbor’s cat walks across the screen… or for anything else comparably harmless. The drawn-out drones are far more effective and feel a lot less cheap, as it’s easy to make someone jump by just cranking the volume without notice. The opening shot is high school girl running down the street in damn-near 1ft. stilettos, then back inside to her house before speeding away in her car. It might not read like much in this blog, and if you’re not distractingly impressed by this girl’s ability to sprint like she does on those heels, you too might just be terrified from the opening shot onward.
This film remind me of when the WWF Hardcore Title was on the line 24/7 back in the early 2000’s… challengers would just come out of nowhere and attack the defending champion, wherever they deemed worthy of a launching a surprise attack. And the cameras always followed the champ around to catch such spontaneous matches, whenever one went down. It was chaos. The madness of live television. It Follows is the feature-length horror-film adaptation of the same idea.
Okay, so you probably missed that pro-wrestling reference entirely, but you shouldn’t miss It Follows. I haven’t been this impressed since Cabin in the Woods. Another kind of innovation, but on a far smaller budget.