Review: IT FOLLOWS (2015) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Review: IT FOLLOWS (2015)

Writer-director David Robert Mitchell manages to capture a frightening sense of dread and paranoia associated with the fear of the unknown, but feels muddled in the narrative standpoint.

A radical departure from the comedy-drama that writer-director David Robert Mitchell debuted in THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER (2010), IT FOLLOWS marks his first foray into the supernatural horror genre. Already debuted last year on the festival circuit to wide acclaim, I was curious with near-universal praises of this movie. While the movie has its genuinely shocking moments, the result is far from a "horror masterpiece" that I originally hoped for.


19-year-old college student Jay (Maika Monroe) has been dating Hugh (Jake Weary) for quite some time. But things go awry after Jay finally having sex with him in his car one night on a date. Her boyfriend knocked her unconscious with chloroform and by the time Jay wakes up, she finds herself being tied to a wheelchair somewhere in an abandoned building. Soon, Hugh reveals that he has already infected her with a curse through sex. The curse is actually a form of supernatural entity that doesn't think or feel, but rather appears in different human form that follows her on foot no matter where she goes. If the entity manages to catch her, it will kill her and returns to the person who passed it to her earlier. And the only way to break the curse is committing sexual activity with another person.

Although IT FOLLOWS is only his second feature, writer-director David Robert Mitchell proves to be an accomplished visual stylist that successfully captured the golden era of modern horror-movie tropes of the '70s and '80s. Together with cinematographer Michael Gioulakis, Mitchell employs lots of old-school approach in terms of camerawork and shot composition that instantly recalls the earlier work of John Carpenter such as HALLOWEEN (1978). Also worth noting is Mitchell's unhurried direction that never once relies on cheap jump scare or showy amounts of gore and violence, but rather a consistent level of foreboding atmosphere plastered on almost every frame. Coupled with Disasterpeace's synth-heavy  and eerie score, the result is creepy enough to make your skin crawl.

Of all the teenage cast here, only Maika Monroe leaves a lasting impression with her riveting central performance as Jay.

The spooky opening scene, which is brilliantly shot in a single unbroken take, follows a scantily-clad teenage girl (Bailey Spry) running out of her suburban house while acting as if someone is chasing after her; and the terrifying beach scene where a mysterious figure attempts to terrorise Jay and her friends.

While most of the technical levels are praiseworthy for a low-budget horror movie, some of the effects -- especially in the makeup department -- looks glaringly amateurish that at times it almost laughable.

Then there's the weaknesses surrounded with Mitchell's script itself. Even though the movie is heavily praised for its originality and fresh approach to the otherwise well-worn supernatural genre, Mitchell's metaphor-heavy storyline involving STD (sexually transmitted disease) and teenage sex is too ambiguous that leaves me more perplexed than feeling intrigued. Even the fundamental concept alone -- a curse that is only passed from person to person through sexual intercourse -- is somewhat silly.


IT FOLLOWS may have been spotty in places, but remains decent enough for a supernatural horror movie that dares to be different. No doubt David Robert Mitchell is one of the up-and-coming filmmakers to look out for in the future.

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