Sure, there is one misguided jeremiad taking it to task for punishing sexually active women, a critic who whines, “I’d like to see something new to be terrified about (now that sex has stopped being scary to me).” Sex might not be frightening to her, but she’s north of the target demographic for whom it frequently is. We all do “it,” for fear of even saying the word. It follows then, that there’s a reason sex and horror are paired that go beyond the phrase “cheap thrills.” Horror is ultimately about making sense of a senseless world — when a character is chloroformed by her date, we defy anyone to say they saw that one coming.
It Follows demonstrates Ezra Pound’s injunction to “make it new.” For grizzled horror hounds like ourselves, we’ve learned a few new tricks and were even surprised a few times. Hell, if Quentin Tarantino (who’s seen a few movies in his day) says, “It was the best premise I’ve seen in a horror film in a long, long, long time…”
A few detractors notwithstanding, It Follows has got everything to make it a critic-proof, commercial hit: a smart, supernatural plot, Kubrickian hallways, a game cast, gorgeous vibrancy, an unsettling score, and a bigger spending allowance than the bulk of its indie brethren. Most importantly, it’s just edgy enough to get bums in the seats but not too off-putting to prevent mass appeal.
The film’s plot is simple enough: an entity hunts down Michigan college students, who’ve been variously passing the time with smoking, drinking and Dostoevsky. It’s a bit of a twist on the urban legend AIDS Mary motif: “This thing. It’s gonna follow you. Something gave it to me.”
The thing in question is a nasty supernatural force passed from person to person in this, the first HIV allegory we’ve encountered since The Fly [listen to our discussion of The Fly here]
We see their world through Jay (Maika Monroe), a sleep-deprived blonde who sees things her friends can’t (“it’s in the house!”).
Like Argento’s Tenebre, It Follows is comfortable mining fear in daylight hours and like the giallo maestro’s masterpiece, water features prominently throughout. There’s lolling about in an above-ground pool, a beach, showers, sinks and a stunning set piece involving a swimming pool – a hallucinogenic bit of dreamlike weirdness with inspired, Euro-flare.
Still, It Follows is not without its faults. As others have pointed out, its mythology is all over the map: there’s some lazy dialogue, some lulls, a paucity of adults.
Overall though, it’s a winner mostly deserving of its accolades. Add a half-star if you’re supernaturally-inclined.