As a movie genre, horror ebbs and flows in its popularity, but it’s never gone away. People who love horror, really love horror, and that audience will always be there. But every few years, there’s a horror movie that breaks through its cult fan base and makes its way into the mainstream. This year, I’ve heard so many people bang on about It Follows, that even as someone who doesn’t particularly like horror, I had to check it out.
A girls stands in the middle of a suburban street and is obviously petrified of something unseen. Refusing help from the people around her, she gets in a car and speeds away. Later, on a lonely beach at night, she calls her father to let him know she loves him and her mother. The next morning, her mutilated corpse is left laying on that beach. Cut to Jay (Maika Monroe), on a date at the movies with Hugh (Jake Weary). As they wait in the lobby, Hugh sees a creepy woman walk in. Jay cannot see the creepy woman, and they leave.
Later, after having sex in Hugh’s car, Jay wakes up, tied to a wheelchair. Hugh explains that by banging, he has passed on curse to Jay. A curse that means she will be pursued by a slow walking creep that can take the form of anyone. If it ever catches up to her, she’ll die. The only way to escape the curse is to pass it on by sleeping with someone else. But if Jay is killed before she can get rid of it, the curse will revert back to Hugh. Now Jay has to convince her friends Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and Paul (Keir Gilchrist), and sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) that the curse is real, so they can help her escape it.
Maybe I’m an easy mark because I don’t watch many of these kinds of movies, but I found It Follows pretty bloody scary. The idea of this slow, but relentless being coming at you forever and ever is the kind of thing I’ve had nightmares about. And the tone setup by the opening scene with the terrified woman in the street puts you off balance straight away and never lets you regain it.
In classic horror movie tradition, It Follows looks like it’s making the most of a limited budget and its lack of recognisable stars means the story and bad guy get to take centre stage at all times. There’s no flashiness to be distracted by or for the movie hide behind. It Follows works because it understands the fundamentals of horror movies and focuses on mood and tone. So when the big shocks do come, they feel earned.