MOVIE REVIEW: ‘It Follows’ Is A Modern American Horror Masterpiece

it follows

Film: It Follows
Starring: Bailey Spry
Directed by: David Robert Mitchell

David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows will eventually be known as the first instant classic of 2015.  A distant departure from his previous work, this original horror story plays like the ad for safe sex you never knew you needed, and it supplies plenty of deeply chilling scares along the way.

We open on a seemingly average suburban Detroit neighborhood. A girl, unnamed, emerges from her home in a panic. She doesn’t speak as much as scream, and it’s clear from her body language that she believes someone or some thing is behind her. The camera moves smoothly, following the young lady as she stumbles down the street, but when someone asks if she needs help the girl is quick to refuse any aide. She returns to the home, just as her father is coming outside to see what all the fuss is about, and then she bursts through the door once more with car keys in her hand. She gets in the only vehicle in the driveway and speeds up the block, leaving her father standing in their front lawn, confused as ever.

It’s in these opening moments that David Robert Mitchell sets the tone for It Follows, and though the way the mystery unfolds continues to evolve as the story progresses, it’s this exploration of our fears of the unknown (and in this case, unseen) that will shake viewers to their core. There are no ghosts to be found, no priests, no monsters, no serial killers, and certainly no animals turned evil. There is just the menace best referred to as ‘it,’ and no matter how far or fast anyone runs, ‘it’ always catches up.

Enter Annie, a teenager with a mysterious boyfriend and an affinity for spending long amounts of time in her backyard, above-ground swimming pool alone. After a seemingly normal late night sexual encounter, Annie awakens to find herself strapped to a chair in an abandoned building. Her boyfriend is near, and as she struggles to escape he explains she has been given something menacing which will follow her for the rest of her life, or until she has sex with someone else. It’s not a disease, but it’s also not human. It’s not anything of this Earth, as far as anyone can tell, but it exists and it is coming. Always.

Like any horror movie teen, Annie initially writes off her now ex-boyfriend’s warnings as justification for using her for sex, but she soon comes to realize the entity without a name does, in fact, exist. As if that realization is not enough to try and wrap her head around, Annie soon learns she is the only person who can see the entity when it approaches. She is alone, in a way, and over time that isolation begins to take a toll on Annie’s psyche.

It should be obvious by now that It Follows is essentially a metaphor showcasing the horrors of sexually transmitted diseases, but when you’re watching it there is a true sense of terror bursting at the seams of nearly every scene. You understand the mysterious entity stalking Annie as well as she does, which is akin to knowing nothing at all, and you cannot help looking in the corner of each scene wondering if you will spot whatever it is moving closer to the protagonist. Sometimes you will find it, other times you won’t, but David Robert Mitchell has created a universe in which the fear of it being near is always present. That accomplishment alone makes It Follows a movie worthy of recommendation, and it’s just one of many great things to be found in the film’s 100-minute runtime.

Believe me when I say you have never seen anything like It Follows. From the opening moments straight through until the final frames before the credits roll it is an entirely unique cinematic experience that is guaranteed to have you looking over your shoulder for weeks to come. I don’t know how David Robert Mitchell stumbled across this idea, but for the time being it will stand as his greatest gift to the world of film. Here’s hoping he stays in the world of horror for years to come, as we could all use more of his unique vision in our lives.

 

GRADE: A

Review written by James Shotwell

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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