Words by Josh Powlesland
Starring Maika Monroe and Keir Gilchrist, It Follows is the story of Jay (Monroe), a teenage girl who is perpetually followed by a threatening supernatural entitynafter sleeping with her boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary). Before disappearing on her, Hugh informs Jay that it can take any form that will allow it to get close, and that it will never stop following until it kills her – the only way to get rid of it is to pass it along by sleeping with someone else. This leads to Jay being on the run from the monster whilst her childhood friend (Gilchrist) and a few others (Daniel Zovatto, Olivia Luccardi and Lili Sepe) try and come up with a way to break the curse.
The overall story of the film is very minimal, and only seems to exist to link together set piece moments, but that isn’t entirely a bad thing. The simplicity of the story is reflected in the concept of the monster chasing her – it has no motivation, or even a specific form – it just follows. The director (David Robert Mitchell) makes the age old decision to focus more on the monster than on the cast of characters we’re following, sometimes framing shots specifically to allow for us to see it in the background rather than paying attention to what the characters have to say. The simplistic idea of something that never stops following no matter how far you run is something we have seen repeatedly in the genre, but the creature’s ability to take on any form adds a unique element that affects the audience as much as the characters. It’s hard not to constantly scan the backgrounds for anything slowly walking in their direction, and Mitchell plays with this through false alarms and the occasional time when you’re clearly meant to have seen it before the characters do.
Unfortunately, the concept and design of the monster is let down overall by terrible dialogue, mediocre at best acting and a healthy dose of horror cliches that have become more than laughable. The characters often decide to run upstairs and lock themselves in a small room, for example. Or, whilst running away at night, they choose the dense forest with a million possible directions the creature could come from rather than a sensible vantage point with minimal potential points of entry. It feels like the actors do what they can with the script they’ve been given but it doesn’t come across well – what was obviously intended to be throwback style dialogue just comes across as really clunky, and the full synth ‘retro’ score felt more distracting than ambient.