Ever felt like someone is watching you? Ever felt that maybe someone is following you? What if you knew something was always lurking and you knew eventually, it would catch up to and kill you. You don’t know how, you don’t know why, and you don’t know when. The only thing you know for sure is that It will follow. This is the entire premise of It Follows, written and directed by David Robert-Mitchell. What sounds like it’d be a B-grade horror flick, turns out to be one the best additions to the genre in years. It’s the balance of Mitchell’s beautiful camera work, Richard Vreeland’s haunting soundtrack, and the simple yet immensely horrifying premise of the film that will have you looking over your shoulder for days to come.
The film begins with a prologue where a girl is followed and killed by an invisible force, foreshadowing what’s to come to Jay (Maika Monroe). An ordinary girl with a normal life, she goes on a date with Hugh, a guy she met before. She eventually sleeps with Hugh, but he knocks her out and takes her to a parking structure. Once awake, he tells her that he has passed a curse onto her, one she will never be rid of unless she passes it on to someone else. He doesn’t know what, who or why. It can be anyone, and anything. The only thing you can be certain of is it will follow you. But it’s not long after that she realizes no matter how far away she goes or what she does, it’s heading straight for her.
The premise of the film is really simple, but it works based on three pillars that hold the movie up. The three are the cinematography, the creature, and the soundtrack. The creature is an original concept that doesn’t sound too interesting on paper. What sets it apart and makes it so horrifying is the creature is Death itself. Other villains in movies are usually stopped at the end of their films. This thing never dies and never relents. Want to get rid of it? You have to doom another person for a momentary lapse of peace. But in time, it will get what it wants. What helps the creature be more terrifying in every encounter is both Mitchell’s masterful cinematography and Vreeland’s music.
The way Mitchell uses the camera makes you not just a viewer, but almost as if you’re part of the film too. No other movie I’ve seen had me looking for the creature in every single shot like this film did. It even rewards you sometimes when you can spot the monster in the background, yet none of the characters realize it’s there. There are some very unique and gorgeous shots that convey both story and scares. There are also these interim moments, where the film goes into a sort of peaceful lull in between the attack. When these traveling scenes come up, what you see is a work of art. Combine this with Vreeland’s hauntingly beautiful 80’s reminiscent soundtrack and you get a powerful and scary film.
While the acting and characters are pretty solid and the scares themselves are great, the story itself does leave a bit to be desired. It never really goes anywhere and that’s the biggest negative here, along with a somewhat weak and vague ending. The pool scene wasn’t as strong as it could have been, as it doesn’t actually lead to anything. The very last moments of the film almost seem as if it ends where it started. In the conclusion, there isn’t really a resolution for Jay, as much as it’s more of a somber acceptance of her fate. She knows one day she will die by either the creature or even life itself, and she almost seems content with it. It makes the film seem like more of a story of accepting and coming to terms with mortality.
When all comes together, the film creates a horror unlike any other despite its flaws. This is something all fans of the horror genre need to see. For both the artistic cinematic masterpiece that it is, along with the unique idea for the movie’s “monster,” I cannot recommend It Follows enough to other people. Just like the monster here, it will follow in your head for days to come.
4 out of 5 Zombie Heads