By Pete Barell
Arts & Entertainment Editor
These days, horror films are at a disadvantage – they’re pumped out by major studios at such a rate that it seems theIR quality has diminished, and so perhaps have the expectations of viewers. For every well-rated flick in the genre, dozens of knock-offs, sequels, and remakes receive less than stellar reviews. Alas, despite the apparent cash grab of the mainstream, we are thankfully treated time and again with a confidence-boosting release.
Last year, the cinematic community buzzed over the Australian Indie “The Babadook.” Now, we have yet another flick coming in from off the radar: “It Follows.”
The premise is simple: a 19-year-old girl named Jay (Maika Monroe) is followed by a slow, shape-shifting presence after having a strange sexual encounter. The titular “It” in the film does, of course, follow – constantly, wherever Jay is; she knows that it is approaching and will inevitably reach her. Banding together with her siblings and friends, journeying through a seemingly abandoned Detroit, Jay must find a way to combat “It,” and be ridden of this sinister force that has taken over her world.
This is not a simple tale of a haunting; there isn’t a go-to solution to the problem – no exorcisms, no holy incense. Complicating things, the source of evil can show itself in the appearance of a loved one, dead or alive, or else a total stranger. Everything is uncertain, and that is the truly horrifying element in the story.
“It Follows” hardily depends on a buildup of suspense, a slow grind of tension that creates anxiety for the viewer. Disasterpeace (stage name of Rich Vreeland) weaved in a very fitting score, taking hints from ‘80s films like John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” which does wonders in creating this eerie world, flip-flopping between swelling synth-tones that transform into stabbing staccatos.
The film wears its influences on its sleeve, but that it no way tarnishes the quality. Yes, it pays homage to classic films in the genre and this makes it a more identifiable cut than the vast majority of releases in recent years. There is a handcrafted vibe here down to the minutia of the set design, filled with old-school cars and antique-filled
homes.This is not a scary flick in the sense of jump-scares, which many films seem to rely on all too much. Instead, the film suspends a sense of dread in the viewer, like an ongoing nightmare. Knowing this, it makes a whole lot of sense that the idea of the film, setting a tone of psyche anxiety, is derived from ongoing nightmares director David Robert Mitchell has had, according to interviews. “It Follows” is classic horror. It stays with you.
“It Follows” debuted at Cannes Film Festival in 2014. It had its limited release early this March, and is expanding to wide-release on March 27.