In my early teens, right around the time I started the 8th grade, I began having what was to become a (so far) lifelong re-occurring dream. In the dream I am terrified, running as fast as my legs will carry me because I am being pursued by a giant, faceless predator who, regardless of how fast I am moving, is always directly behind me and I know, with the type of logic reserved only for dreams, that I cannot escape…and I never do.
The dream still scares me, even today.
It Follows, the first (but hopefully not the last) horror film of director David Robert Mitchell, exists in that hazy nightmare state, where reality is relative and fear is all consuming.
For 19 year old Jay (Maika Monroe), the nightmare begins when she has sex with Hugh (Jake Weary), a young man she’s been casually dating, only to later be drugged and bound to a chair, waking after some time to be told that he has passed on a sexually transmitted curse. Some thing will be following her, Hugh tells her, no matter where she goes or what she does It will be walking directly towards her, and if It catches her, she will die. The only way to rid herself of It is to pass It on to another person by having sex with them.
And then It shows up…
It can look like anyone, Jay is told, but the first time she lays eyes of It, it’s in the form of a naked woman walking sluggishly yet deliberately towards her. Think zombie walk but more determined. The creature is slow, Hugh tells her, but it won’t stop; it will never stop.
I won’t lie, the very thought of this type of halting, relentless trailing by an entity who’s sole purpose is to exterminate the object of it’s pursuit, is my nightmares made flesh.
The whole movie in fact felt very much like watching a nightmare unfold. The score is strange and sparse, seemingly made up of the erratic, random sounds one hears in dreams or by the almost overwhelming ambient noise of nature…crickets, wind and water have never sounded quite so sinister before. The images are just as biting, sometimes sharp and bright, at other times took on a blurred, surreal quality, like looking through old glass and seeing everything with a hazy film around the edges. The camera moves slowly, keeping us on the same level as Jay, moving with the water as she swims, shaking slightly when she is afraid and scrambling in terror as she runs for her young life. At other times we are not on par with Jay, instead Mitchell gives us a different view, he pans over empty scenery, catching glimpses of unlocked doors, empty pools or quiet streets and finally we watch Jay, pursuing her as It pursues her, following so close we can almost feel her terror. This frantic reversal of roles is deeply unsettling and guaranteed to get your pulse pounding.
It helps that Maika Monroe is absolutely flawless in the lead, her performance so earnest and raw, her fear so dense and palpable it becomes a suffocating presence in itself. I honestly don’t know how else to describe how absolutely riveting this young woman is, except to say that her performance in It Follows undoubtedly stands out as one of the greatest performances by an actress in a horror film. What really stands out though, with Monroe and the rest of the utterly phenomenal cast, is how very real they seem. You will recognize Jay and her entourage, you know these kids, you grew up with these people, there are no characters here, only people. People experiencing a very real, visceral horror…and it’s perfect.
Yeah, you really need to see this movie.
That being said…a lot of people won’t like It Follows. There is none of the blood, guts or exploding heads that have become commonplace in modern horror, which in itself is not really horror, but rather gore. The pace will also bore some viewers no doubt, the movie, like the creature, moves slowly…deliberately but with purpose. It’s definitely not for everyone, and that’s normal, there is no such thing as a movie that will please an entire audience, hell I even know people who hated The Exorcist (go figure).
For fans of character driven, atmospheric horror in its purest form (ex. Babadook, Starry Eyes, House of the Devil or even the original Halloween) I promise you that It Follows will absolutely not disappoint. If you’re anything like me, I think you will find that despite the fact that you will be chilled to your core, the most lasting impression It Follows will leave behind, is the intense desire for more of the same.
Do let me know what you thought of this flick horror fans, and as always give a girl some love and click that Like button 😉