Sex Spook Terror

The “D” in this paranormal STD stands for “dooom”

FILM REVIEW by Jorge Ignacio Castillo


It Follows
Southland Cinemas
4 out of 5

It’s been a dark time for discerning horror fans. Zombies have been co-opted by the boring mainstream, vampires became super-lame and the genre’s most popular titles might as well be titled Loud Noises and Loud Noises 2: Louder Noises.

But there’s still hope for horror. Young filmmakers who grew up watching and learning from movies by John Carpenter, William Friedkin and Stanley Kubrick are making alternatives to what the industry is trying to pass off as scary. Films like The Babadook, The Guest, Honeymoon and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night have both chills and substance, and they’re not re-using plots we’ve seen a thousand times.

And they’re doing it on minimal budgets with very little blood and gore.

You could make a good case that It Follows is the best of the bunch. This STD allegory  uses the relentlessness of evil to startling effect.

Jay (rising scream queen Maika Monroe) is a pretty 18-year-old haunted by a sexually transmitted spook. The spirit in question is an unrelenting force that can adopt any shape, and it’s out to get her. The only thing going for her is speed (the evil spirit moves slowly) and the possibility of passing the disease along. But in the end it’s clear she’s just postponing the inevitable. Whatever that’s going to be.

It Follows’ compelling premise is executed deftly and even lands the ending, which is where most of these clever flicks falter. And the attention to detail is remarkable —every corner of the frame is used. Since most of the time we don’t know what the ghoul looks like, we’re always on edge. And when we do see it, IT’S NOT BETTER.

Halloween’s influence is all over the place. Teenage and adult worlds seldom connect and there is no expectation grown-ups can solve anything. The few times we see someone’s parents, they’re either irrelevant or useless.

It Follows also has a synth-heavy score that riffs on Carpenter’s classic Halloween theme while having a personality of its own.

Sex is a major element in the film but It Follows’ youths approach it tentatively, which adds another layer of realism. Jay is forced to separate her emotions from the act, causing major chaos in her psyche. At the opposite end, teenage boys have no problem risking death as long as they can “get some.” Like in real life, the characters seem terrified of adulthood — yet circumstances are pushing them in that direction and shaping their personalities.

Unlike real life, there’s an evil sex spook.

Writer/director David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American Sleepover) takes full advantage of Detroit’s ghost town look, amplifying Jay’s isolation. Mitchell sticks to the rules he creates and offers few answers, which is refreshing.

It Follows is the rare movie that’s caught on solely through word-of-mouth. Now it’s poised to reach a much bigger audience. Hopefully it will arrive here soon.

Expect a sequel, although there’s a lot to live up to.