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It Follows



MV5BMTUwMDEzNDI1MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNzAyODU5MzE@._V1__SX1217_SY647_Released: 2015

Directed By: David Robert Mitchell

Starring: Maika Monroe

Certificate: 15

It Follows. They run.

The last decade hasn’t seen much success for the horror genre, with the exception of a minority of films that have slipped through the net and managed to gain notoriety for swaying a little north of the genre’s typical conventions (The Cabin in the Woods, Drag Me to Hell, The Babadook). Primarily though, we have been exposed to every ghost, possessed character, evil spirit and house bound mystery that we can shake a wooden cross at, and these have seemed to remain popular above all else. So when It Follows graced our screens; an ostensibly ingenious and scalp-prickling concept, it teased at unique prospects for the genre.

The film begins in classic Halloween fashion; a young girl fleeing her suburban neighbourhood in utter panic that someone or something is following her. We can’t see who or what it is; we just know she’s not messing around. So who can see ‘It’? The victims of a sexually transmitted curse that sends a shape-shifting supernatural entity following you anywhere, any time, making an STD seem an inviting prospect. The premise, without watching it, seems fairly crass, but it’s a fantastically fresh spin on the classic pass-on-the-curse design, one horror fans will remember all too well from 2002s The Ring. The film centres around depicting a variety of ways sex is used, and this is all too true to reality; it’s a weapon, it’s self-defence, a release, an answer, and these are all used somehow during Jay’s nightmare, making it a metaphorical masterpiece that really is quite clever. This was seen not so long ago, when Scarlett Johansson portrayed an alien predator in Under the Skin, prowling the streets of Glasgow looking for men she could impose her sexual allure upon. She appears human albeit foreign-bodied and single-minded.

In a delightful homage to Carpenter’s Michael Myers, our bizarre being walks at all times, and director David Robert Mitchell does well never to stray from this tricky restriction. As Hugh (Jake Weary) states when warning Jay (Maika Monroe) of her inevitable fate after their seemingly innocent sexual encounter, “It’s slow, but it’s not stupid.” It’s the terrifying notion of being chased up the stairs, but despite this, only manages to keep our audience’s palms half-clammy throughout.

Even though Mitchell is well deserving of praise for extracting aspects from our favourite types of horrors and creating a delightfully unsullied notion, when you strip away the elements that enjoyably take us back over 40 years, (the staccato quality 70s style music and warped time era) it really was nothing more than a fairly slow moving and empty film, containing little to no climax (bar a few orgasms). The subtle scenes that had us questioning the time frame – the use of a kindle-like device but not a flat screen TV in sight, or the black and white photographs on the wall and a cinema that looked like it had teleported itself out of the 50s – were a bizarre touch that probably had audiences more freaked out than when witnessing Jay flee from a half naked incontinent woman. It felt like there was too much time spent on getting these retro, arty and hip components of the film right, and not enough time spent on the characters, the emotion, the plot and build-up. I was not privy to anyone’s inner most thoughts or personality that might have enabled me to feel some compassion toward these characters, and that lack of context had me fully aware throughout that I was merely an insider glimpsing in, rather than feeling as if I was a part of this weird, and what could have been wonderful, narrative.

It was a great concept with a whole host of potential; a film about an unknown being stalking innocent victims should be putty in a director’s hands for jumpy scenes and terrifying build-up, but it just wasn’t taken advantage of here. I didn’t feel any real sense of urgency from anyone to discover the where’s, why’s, how’s and what’s, but instead to run, and if in doubt run some more, which in the end left us feeling very bewildered and rather cheated. I should have been on the edge of my seat throughout, but unfortunately the only thing that had me jumping up was the rolling of credits.

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