Saturday, May 9, 2015

It Follows: Review

Whoa, it's a different theater.

It Follows opens on a quiet street at night, ultimately focusing on one house.  A teenage girl (Bailey Spry) runs out of the house in sheer terror.  Nothing seems to be after her.  Neighbors show concern but she tells them nothing is wrong, when there is clearly something wrong.  Her father comes out mystified and concerned.  She runs back in the house and then back out, finally taking the car on a drive.  She calls her home and apologizes to her dad for being a bad girl sometimes and says she loves him.  These are her final words as the next morning she is revealed to be dead and mutilated at

the torso.  This opening sets the stakes for the rest of the film.

It Follows poster.

This film has been noted for its qualities in the tradition of John Carpenter, which is why I decided to see it.  This film takes place in the suburbs with Fall foliage aplenty.  Wind is a heavy presence throughout the film, simultaneously tranquil and unnerving; birds' tweeting and calling also carry through the air along with the sounds of other neighborhood critters.  The music is heavily synthesized, propulsive, and plodding.  Musical stings are prevalent to the point of being overkill.  Halloween (Carpenter's most famous and the one to which this is most similar) was shot in Southern California but set in the Midwest.  This film was actually shot in the greater Detroit area in Michigan as well as being set there.

Maika Monroe in It Follows.  Reprinted from

Maika Monroe plays the primary protagonist, Jay Height.  Maika Monroe is the most gorgeous she's ever been here.  It turns out that I'd seen her already in Labor Day and The Guest.  However, it felt like I was seeing her for the first time here.  In The Guest she was far too dolled up and kind of annoying.  In Labor Day her character was a shrew and too minor, and, as a consequence, overshadowed by the ageless Kate Winslet.  Contrarily, she is absolutely stunning and radiant and sweet as Jay Height.  I also love that she's from Santa Barbara, my college town. 

Lily Sepe, Ovivia Luccardi, and Keir Gilchrist.
Left to right: Lily Sepe as Kelly, Olivia Luccardi as Yara, and Keir Gilchrist as Paul.  Reprinted from

Jay Height has a sister, Kelly (Lily Sepe), and a few best friends: Yara (Olivia Luccardi), who is especially cute in her glasses and funny at times, and Paul (Keir Gilchrist), who is the male best friend who yearns to be more.  I enjoyed Keir Gilchrist in It's Kind of a Funny Story (a runner-up favorite from the past, perhaps).

Jay has a boyfriend (Jake Weary) who she sleeps with, after which he drugs her and ties her up.  When she awakes, he explains that he has passed something onto her; some kind of sexually transmitted haunting that carries with it a death sentence.  Now, that seems pretty original.  There will be "people" who are not really people but different iterations of a violent and destructive spirit that will keep stalking her and eventually kill her.  She's the only one who can see it.  Her only hope of getting rid of it is passing it onto someone else through sex.  This leads to concerns, as typical for these movies, where her friends initially don't believe her.  Acknowledgment of the problem is the first step to solving the problem.

Daniel Zovatto, Maika Monroe, and Lily Sepe
Left to right: Daniel Zovatto as Greg Hannigan, Maika Monroe as Jay Height, and Lily Sepe as Kelly Height.  Reprinted from
A few questions occurred to me during the film.  What if it was passed onto a blind person?  Would a blind person still be stalked and killed (with virtually no hope)?  Or does one's vision (and subsequent fear) give the spirit it's power?  Could a blind person be immune?  If so, would the spirit be caught in a stalemate?    

Another teen joins her group early on, Greg Hannigan (Daniel Zovatto).  Greg is attracted to her and this forms a triangle with Paul.  One of the most memorable sequences involves Greg leading the group to s secluded and picturesque lakeside spot that his family owns.  However, the beautiful scene turns into a nightmare when the spirit attacks (Jay's hair gets pulled by an invisible force among other things).  Her sister and friends start to glimpse the veracity of her claims.

Poster with Maika Monroe
Maika Monroe as Jay Height standing in tree-lined neighborhood.
Ultimately, the tension continues to increase as they try to figure out how to beat the spirit leading to a final showdown of above average intelligence.  In spite of very loud music, the film is actually very quiet, which is a very welcome change of pace.  Much of the film depicts quiet conversations among the kids and quiet walks and other low-key moments.  And, of course, it's quiet enough that the wind and birds are heard with rare clarity.  And it is this tranquil suburban existence that the spirit threatens.

Overall, this film is one of the best horror films that I've seen in years (including You're Next, The Strangers, The Cabin in the Woods, The Purge 2, and John Carpenter's The Ward).  One of the spirit-followers is an old woman in hospital-like pajamas, which evokes the pajamas the escaped inmates wore at the beginning of Halloween.  In general, this film is about as close of a representation to my childhood nightmares as any.  Recommended.  I probably won't buy it, but I'd definitely watch it again by other means.

No comments:

Post a Comment