The Film (3/5)
*This review contains spoilers
Jay(Maika Monroe) is a 19 year old student whose world centers around hanging out with her friends, swimming in her backyard pool, and dating. The latter of which she begins to do with a guy named Hugh, who on their second date has sex with her in the back of his car. After this he uses chloroform on her, knocks her out, and ties her to a wheelchair. He then informs her that she is now being followed by a supernatural creature. This creature will literally follow her, anywhere she goes, and when it catches her, it will kill her. She has one way out, and that is to have sex with someone else, then they must avoid the creature until the “curse” can be passed on. If she fails then the creature begins to follow Hugh again, and the process continues from there. Jay, of course, doesn’t entirely believe it, but once the creature begins to make attempts on her life, she along with her friends band together to try and find a way to stop it.
A lot has been made about It Follows as a metaphor for sexually transmitted diseases, and that is certainly one way to look at it. I, however, found the film as a metaphor for the American fear of sex and sexuality. On first watch of the film, I observed the character of Jay expecting her to sleep quickly with another male partner, and pass it on to him. Maybe he would fail to pass it to someone else, or maybe he would be successful. Instead, what we are left with is Jay, quickly discovering that not only is she cursed with a creature who is following and threatening her very existence, but that she will do anything BUT have sex for most of the movie to deal with it.
One gets the impression that director David Robert Mitchell did this to create an atmosphere of suspense throughout the film, but the only emotion I felt was anger at the blatant stupidity of the main character once she realized that the very unrealistic plight she was in was indeed real for her. Rather then attempt to pass on the curse, she runs away, tries to find Hugh, anything, but have sex with another individual and passing it to them. I would say this was indicative of the character’s personality moral stance, that she would only sleep with someone she is in a relationship with, but later in the movie one of the character’s she did pass it to, decided to pick up a prostitute, but lost his nerve at the minute, hammering home the message that sex maybe worse that death.
When John Carpenter directed Halloween in 1978, he essentially punished the denizens of Haddonfield for acting on their sexuality. This is a template that was followed by dozens of slasher films throughout the following decades. The premise of It Follows allows for the subversion and breaking of that tradition, much in the same way the earlier film Cherry Falls attempted to do, but rather ends up passing on the same moral message wrapped in a new sleeker package.
One might read the preceding paragraphs, and assume I did not like It Follows. I'd say it's a toss up. It Follows has a striking and effective visual style, that uses simple and elegant lighting and camera moves to great effect. The film has creepy imagery, that has burned it's way into my brain for weeks after viewing. The soundtrack by Disasterpiece is an effective ambient horror movie score that actually helps to create an unsettling atmosphere, and helps to further what suspense exist in the film. Also, the performances from the main cast were understated, yet natural, and for the most part excellent.
It Follows is certainly one of the best horror films in recent memory, but it is overall a frustrating viewing experience. Still there is some power behind the visuals created by Mitchell and company that will certainly keeps fans talking for quite a long time.
It Follows come to Blu-ray via Anchor Bay with a striking 2:39:1 1080p MPEG-4 AVC encoded transfer. This transfer looks quite excellent, with fine detail being excellent throughout , nice colors, and solid blacks.
The audio is presented in a DTS-HD 5.1 track in English. The track is quite good itself with dialogue, score, and ambient noise coming through nicely. I did not detect any issues with the track itself.
It Follows being one of the most popular independent genre films in years, does not get a package deserving of the films popularity. We get a commentary track populated by critics/fans of the film, an interview with the composer, a trailer, and a gallery.
It Follows is a creepy, but overall frustrating horror experience. The Blu-ray from Anchor Bay looks and sounds fantastic, but is sorely lacking in the extras department. I do think since films like this are rare it should be seen and judged on it's own, and so I encourage fans of the genre to pick it up, and thus this one is RECOMMENDED.