It Follows (2014)

I saw the trailer for It Follows quite a while ago, and I was really interested. So when I got my movie theater email this week, I was super excited to see that it was having a limited showing in my local theater. I rushed out to see it as soon as possible. The audience in the theater was pretty minimal, as was to be expected from a release that didn’t really have a lot of publicity.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film. It was definitely my type of creepy. The pacing throughout the film had a pretty slow burn, so I could see a lot of people being let down that not a lot happens. I’m a huge fan of slow pacing, so I thought it fit the film really well. That’s not to say that I didn’t see any problems with the film, because there always are some of those, but I still felt the need to write this review, and I’ve been talking about the film for hours since I’ve left the theater, and that’s always a good sign.

It Follows is essentially a story with a lot of sexual undertones that aren’t exactly subtle. I won’t give them away in this review because that will take away a decently sized aspect of the film. The plot surrounds the main character Jay, who, after having a sexual encounter with a guy named “Hugh,” finds that she’s constantly being followed by an entity.

It never runs, never travels by car or other motor vehicle. It just walks at a dastardly slow pace, like the possibly supernatural slashers of the 70s-80s (Michael Meyers definitely comes to mind). No matter how fast you run or how far you go, it follows, promoting a sense of constant vigilance that keeps both the characters and the audience on edge. It can look like a total stranger or like someone you know, but it is following you, and it wants to kill you.

This plot leads to some really interesting and creepy situations. I can’t help but be freaked out by an ominous stranger walking directly toward me, especially when no one else can see them. The pacing of the film works really well with this creep factor. The shots are really long, making the audience search through the background for anyone or anything that happens to be slowly walking toward the main characters. Often times, this technique is used and there really is nothing happening. Other times, there is something there that needs to be noticed. It keeps you on your toes.

These shots also lead to one of the negatives about the film. There is a lot of zooming and panning, sometimes even 360 degree panning. Whenever this panning is deployed, the movement is too fast. There were times where I felt I was going to be sick, spinning around in circles. If this is the feeling they were going for, then they definitely hit their mark, but I feel it was more distracting than anything. I also feel that the effect was overused. There were some areas where it worked really well. The continuous shot in the opening sequence of the film comes to mind. That point was really phenomenal, and it had a purpose, setting the tone for the entire film. For most of the other situations, it started to get a little annoying.

Other than that problem with the cinematography, the overall look of the film was pretty great. The setting is in Michigan, the Detroit area to be exact. The filmmakers did a really good job of making the movie seem real, like people that you grew up with, living real lives. This really amplified the creep factor for me. It felt like I really knew the characters, and this was happening on my own street.

I never had any issues with the acting in the film. It went along with the very real nature of it. The main actress did a really good job in my opinion as well. Performances can really make or break an idea like the one in It Follows, and I think the performances really made it for this one.

The plot of the film was very interesting to me. As I mentioned, I’d been anticipating seeing it since the first time I saw the trailer.  Overall, I really liked it when actually watching the film too. I did feel there were some consistency issues at some points. I mentioned the opening sequence before, and it’s a good example for this as well. The opening sequence is really haunting and brutal. It definitely grabbed the audience’s attention. The rest of the film doesn’t follow that same path. It brings to question what this entity does exactly. Does it want to kill you in a brutal and painful way or does it want to suck your life energy with a single touch? The film goes back and forth between these two options, and I feel it would have been beneficial to stick with one or the other.

The first half of the film is really good, really engaging. I could probably pinpoint a spot where it starts to falter about halfway through or so. It started to pick up steam again toward the end, and it leaves the viewer with a haunting final image that is really thought provoking. It sticks with you, and that’s a really good sign for a horror film.

As I’ve mentioned several times, I really did like It Follows. I’m glad that I saw it in theaters. The film was shown at Cannes in 2014, and was released first in limited theaters in March of 2015. It’s a low budget film, done at about $2 million, and it’s pretty good. I can see it making a good amount back. The director cites George Romero and John Carpenter as his visual influences for the film, and I can definitely see that. It’s a good job. I would recommend seeing the film at least once. I’ve seen a lot of talk about it, and there’s a good chance it will become one of the classics. It’s that good. I’ll definitely be purchasing it when it gets a DVD release.

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