Halloween is quickly approaching, so I have been trying to get into the mood by watching some well received and recent horror films. I have a long list to work through, and I will probably only have time to make a slight dent in it this October. There were a few recent ones that I was debating watching, but eventually settled on David Robert Mitchell‘s newest film It Follows. The film has been met with rave reviews and inevitable sequel talks. Based on reading a few forums, blogs and reddit, it seems that what is most praised is the films originality. After watching it I can say that it is indeed unique, but less than amazing. The “entity” that follows isn’t like any horror film monster I’ve ever encountered, but otherwise the film is rather run-of-the-mill. Still for big horror fans it is a must watch.
Once again, the film focuses on a group of young friends. It seems all too often the victims in horror films are teens or college students, something that seems a bit of a tired trope. I would like to see more involvement from responsible adults in horror films. This of course does still happen from time to time in films, but they are rarely as reckless as the young. So I suppose it would make sense that the victims are more frequently young. A nice touch is the kids were all fairly believable and never really seemed to be too stereotypical. Most of their decisions seemed sensible (apart from the finale). The “entity” which stalks our hero is passed from person to person through sex, so perhaps another could reason for the youthful target could be the frequency of new or different sex partners. There is one person who is followed and the only way to stop the following is to have sex and transfer it to another. The problem arises when the “entity” catches up to whomever it is following, the victim dies and the last person who possessed this curse is the new followed. It is pretty simple, but seems to work surprisingly well.
Speaking of the “entity”, it seems to be just a random person walking slowly after its victim. Doesn’t seem to terrifying. It never walks very fast and seems quite easy to avoid. The only problem is that it never stops. It is always walking straight for its target. What caught me off-guard is just how unsettling the “entity” is. Sure a random walking person shouldn’t be too scary, but somehow it is quite creepy. Another catch is the “entity” can only be seen by those who have been the target. Most of the protagonists friends struggle to believe her, which makes the threat less obvious. The simplicity of the creature is what makes it so terrifying. I strongly support the idea in horror that what you don’t see is most terrifying, and though this doesn’t exactly fit that description, the simplicity and ambiguity of the threat makes equally frightening.
The film starts off slowly and builds to a strong and unique horror film, with relatively believable characters. The climax is a bit weak, but still ends in an interesting manner. I can’t explain too much without revealing all the fun, so I’ll have to leave the plot description at this. It has a really enjoyable style, thanks largely to its soundtrack which sounds right at home with all the John Carpenter greats. I think it was the best part of the film; right from the start it feels and sounds just like a classic. So fans of 80’s and early 90’s horror will probably find it an enjoyable fright.
This is a film that really only has appeal for big horror fans. The casual watcher would probably enjoy it, but for them it is in no way a must-see. There are some obvious parallels to STDs and the threat they could potentially pose. You could even expand the metaphor to include any poor life decisions, how the repercussions can potentially follow us for some time. It works a bit as a cautionary tale, but never comes across as preachy. I’ll say it is at least an interesting film with a strong creepiness. It is never really terrifying and I don’t think it has much rewatchability. Still it is a decent one off horror flick that I would recommend to anyone at least once. So if you are in the mood for horror film this Halloween, check out It Follows. It’s some good creepy fun. I’d give it 3 out 5 stars.