Writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s creep-tastic teen psycho-horror flick, It Follows, is a breathe of fresh air. For too long we have been plagued by horror clichés which have dominated our modern day scare-films, leaving audiences thoroughly bored and underwhelmed. Mitchell’s film about a sexually transmitted demon, which stalks a chosen few promiscuous young Americans, holds a simple premise yet he has managed to create a genuinely disturbing piece without falling into the tired and gimmicky bump-in-the-night fright tactics to which many of his recent predecessors have succumbed.
After doing the naughty in the backseat of a car with the boy she’d been dating, pretty blonde Jay (Maika Monroe) soon finds herself thrust (no pun intended) into a cat and mouse game of escaping the strange shape-changing demon which now stalks her. Without knowing what it is or why it is following her, the teenager – with the help of long-time chums Paul (Keir Gilchrist), Yara (Lili Sepe) and sister Kelly (Olivia Luccardi) – must do all she can to avoid coming face-to-face with the unknown being.
There’s plenty of hat-tipping to classics of its genre, with the eerie The Shining-like sound which often dominates the screen, holding a real 80s vibe. Although its intent is painfully clear, the strikingly effective music is the foundation for one of It Follows‘ biggest strengths: building the anticipation. Its relentlessness – through both sound and lingering imagery – keeps us hooked, while the unrequited love story between Jay and the puppy-dog-eyed Paul adds further flavour to an already highly sexualised piece. The teenager’s all too obvious love for his best pal, and his worryingly painful attempt at wooing the young lady – despite her being afflicted with the world’s first supernatural STD – is a strangely bemusing side-story in a film where, thankfully, its characters don’t succumb to cheesy, gag-inducing dialogue.
Mitchell has produced a film which is more psychological than out-right scary – and it is hard to pin-point one moment which really stands out as utterly chilling – but the sense of dread captured in its earliest moments is constant, and that is down to the director’s skilful touch with both sound and shot. Other than a few inconsistencies and an ending which borders on the electrify-ingly farcical, it is a thoroughly enjoyable film and is far from your standard young adult chiller. Like Jennifer Kent’s break-out 2014 Aussie hit, The Babadook, It Follows proves that freaking audiences out isn’t always about what you do, but how you do it.