Cast: Maika Monroe, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Daniel Zovatto, Keir Gilchrist and Jake Weary
Directed by David Robert Mitchell
Written by David Robert Mitchell
All too often, horror films can be labeled as simply another cheap thrill that’s saved for a night in with your friends that doesn’t require too much attention, but in recent years there seems to have been a resurgence of original ideas within the genre, revitalising the industry and developing a greater respect for the work that goes into these films.
In 2014, director David Robert Mitchell released his first mainstream film, ‘It Follows.’ Much like many other films within the horror genre, the overused tropes of teenage friend groups and their sex-obsessed motivations are present within the film, but the director turns these attitudes into intriguing plot devices. The threat from the monster of the film is spread through sexual intercourse, and can only be escaped by passing the ‘disease’ onto the next person. As a result of this, the sexual intrigue that used to play as light relief in classic horrors such as ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Friday the 13th’ instead becomes the catalyst for the threat of the film. After young adult Maika Monroe (Jay Height) becomes the latest victim in a chain of recipients, she must either run or face up to the monster that incessantly follows her, even when those around her are unable to see the threat.
Although often a characteristic that is parodied often within the horror genre, the threat faced by a monster that can only walk at a slow pace towards you seems almost laughable at first, but the way in which this idea is presented within ‘It Follows’ feels fresh and menacing. Constantly sweeping the background of any scene for a creature that is walking directly towards the film’s lead, the audience begins to understand just how unsettling this threat is, and the idea that it will never stop adds brilliantly to the tension of the film. The way in which the antagonist hunts its victims benefits greatly from both the score and the cinematography also. The camera patiently turns effortlessly to follow the action of each scene, which often contrasts with the audiences desire to immediately see the threat that’s being faced, especially when the loud blarings of the 80’s inspired synths filling the score indicate oncoming danger.
The greatest horror films will generally have a deeper message than just unrelenting violence or jump scares, whether that be the recent popularity of cultural ritualism within Ari Aster’s ‘Hereditary’ and ‘Midsommar,’ or the anti-consumerist messages upheld in George A. Romero’s classics like ‘Night of the Living Dead. In the case of ‘It Follows,’ the sexually-transmitted basis for the spread of the film’s threat feels like an important commentary on the horrors of unprotected sex. The idea that just one interaction with a stranger after only a few dates can change your life seems appropriate for a world filled with online dating and instant gratification. Furthermore, the actions of the male characters also seem interesting, with their desire to sleep with the main character not wavering even when they know that she’s haunted by a monster that came from her very own sexual experiences. This could perhaps be read as an exploration into the role of toxic masculinity and the seemingly unrelenting desire for sexual fulfilment that plays a large role in many people’s lives.
Given that Halloween is coming up soon, now seems as good a time as any to begin delving once again into the world of horror, and if that’s the case then I would highly recommend you place ‘It Follows’ at the top of your list, but only if you fancy looking over your shoulders for days after.