Sunday, April 5, 2015

'It Follows' review

There are really only two ways to make a successful horror film- make a flick that appeals to the masses and make loads of money, or create a movie that critics will adore and praise for its craftsmanship. It Follows takes the latter route and so far, it's seen moderate success. It hasn't gained a ton of box office traction, but with $8.5 million in grosses off a very low budget, it's safe to say that It Follows will be considered a box office triumph. Critically, it has fared even better with a stellar 95% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Horror fans and critics are going nuts for this film, and going in, I had some pretty weighty expectations. And I would say that It Follows fell just a bit short. It's a good film, with an interesting concept and an unnerving soundtrack, but it suffers from some repetition and just isn't that terrifying. I would definitely recommend It Follows, yet I can't say that it deserves the massive amounts of praise that it has received.

Jay (Maika Monroe) is an aimless teenager, who goes to community college and spends time with her friends (Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi and Daniel Zovatto) wandering around the urban wasteland of Detroit. One night, she decides to go out to a movie with Hugh (Jake Weary), a guy who she has been talking to for a while. They go out, spend the night together and have sex before Hugh gags her, ties her up and puts her in the middle of a warehouse.

During a startling scene, Hugh explains to Jay that she will now be followed by this being. When they had sex, he passed along this monster to Jay. It does nothing but follow. It moves at a slow pace. It can take on any shape or form. It can look like your friend. It can only be seen by you. It can find you anywhere. And the only way you can get rid of it is to pass it along to someone else through sex. The rest of the film chronicles Jay's journey as she makes life or death decisions to avoid an entity that will never go away.

Director David Robert Mitchell deserves props for creating a thoughtful, complex and most of all, deliciously twisted scenario for his characters to operate within. It Follows definitely has a seriously messed up plot and the morals behind it are interesting to think about. I know some have seen it as a metaphor for STD's, but if it is, Mitchell struggles to find anything to say within about that motif. In its purest form, It Follows is a creative and classical horror film that feels retro in a modern age of found footage and jump scares.

The cast of characters is filled with horror movie cliches, including: the shy, sexually repressed nerdy guy, the cool rocker dude and the dorky friend. All of the actors fit their roles to perfection, but none of them are able to really do anything special. Maika Monroe gets the meatiest character, yet even she struggles to do much with Jay. In the end, the characters are merely there to service Mitchell's plot and there isn't much of an attempt to give depth to any of them. 

Mitchell directs and stages this film with flair, but his screenplay is less skillful. It Follows has a great concept, yet the question truly ends up being: Is there anywhere to go with it? Because of that, It Follows ends up circling around over and over before climaxing with a truly terrifying and well-crafted set piece. The ending remains ambiguous and Mitchell ties up the loose ends well, but the road to get there is an overlong journey. 

Despite its numerous issues and the fact that it consistently remains loyal to horror tropes, It Follows is exceptional in certain aspects. Mitchell relies less on jump scares than on a sense of paranoia and genuine dread, which makes the film a lot of fun. It was entertaining to try to spot "it" in the background of various scenes and the tension continues to build and build throughout the film before it blows up in a few climatic moments. 

But what truly makes It Follows a unique experience is the music. Rich Vreeland's amazing score is a mix of creaky scariness and electronic pulse, giving the film a unique sound of its own. Whenever anything frightening is happening in the film, the music will be right there to increase the tension and create some straight-up nail-biting suspense. The final action scene, set at a community pool, is an instant horror classic and a scene that benefits heavily from Vreeland's score.

Is It Follows the true blue horror classic that many have deemed it? Only time will tell. There does seem to be a classical feel to it and a timelessness that could help it break out of the age that it was made in. However, it has its fair share of issues and I don't see this film ever breaking into the mainstream. This film will certainly be a cult classic, but I'm not betting on a long shelf life beyond the cult crowd.

It Follows is a good time at the theater if you want to be scared and watch a fun, entertaining and mildly thoughtful horror film. This isn't a fully complete film and there are a lot of problems, but I enjoyed the movie and I think that there's a certain quality to the film that makes it really engaging. But if the true test of a horror film is how much you think about it after you watch it, then It Follows is not a major success. This movie has not haunted my dreams and to be honest, it faded from my memory rather quickly. Despite that, It Follows is still a lot of fun and I believe that horror fans will surely enjoy this when they check it out in theaters. 

THE FINAL GRADE:  B                                              (7.3/10)

Image Credits: Hollywood Reporter, JoBlo, Variety, Flickering Myth, Fat Movie Guy

1 comment:

  1. It's the most entertaining and original horror I've seen a long, long time.