It Follows JayThe link between sex and horror movies is well documented, to the point where it is little surprise to most filmgoers when the first couple to get it on is also the first to get offed by the slasher killer / supernatural force / whatever. It Follows treads this well-worn path, featuring a supernatural force that stalks the latest unfortunate in a chain of sexual partners. Writer/director David Robert Mitchell takes his premise surprisingly far (enough so that the film has received quite a bit of critical attention, and a warm reception at the Cannes Film Festival), but the film ultimately fails to transcend the familiarity of the material.

Jay (Maika Monroe) lives with her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and mother in the Detroit suburbs. She is dating Hugh (Jake Weary), and, despite some odd behavior on his part, including seeing a little girl she cannot, they have sex. Afterward, Hugh tells Jay that he has passed a curse of sorts on to her, and she is now being followed by a deadly entity only she and Hugh can see. The entity appears in the guise of different people, and Hugh warns Jay that the only way to avoid being killed is for her to pass the curse on by having sex with someone else. Initially not sure what to believe, Jay becomes convinced of the reality of her situation, and enlists the aid of her sister and friends to try to track down Hugh and stay one step ahead of her follower.

It Follows posterPremise and plot are not It Follows‘s strong suits, but they are not what ultimately results in a little disappointment. After all, the plot is strikingly similar to the killer videotape of Ringu (or the American remake The Ring), a successful horror movie with an arguably more ridiculous setup. The chief problem with It Follows is a lack of development in the script. Mitchell sets up some potentially interesting ethical dilemmas for Jay, as she wrestles with whether to pass on the curse, but the film fails to milk these. Mitchell is also not interested in delving into the origin of the follower. The rules that he does set up for the entity are at least consistent, but the few dangling threads feel like a lost opportunity. Even the setting is given short shrift, with a few mentions of urban decay toward the end winding up as throwaway.

All this being said, It Follows does feature some nice scares and a compelling sense of atmosphere throughout. Mitchell impresses in shot composition and use of widescreen, and the score by Disasterpeace calls back to classic 80s horror. The film is more than a little reminiscent of horror master John Carpenter, including a notable crib of a classroom scene from Halloween. It Follows is certainly effective, but there is just a little too much possibility left on the table. Still, one could do worse at the theater on a dark night.

 

UGeek Rating: 6/10