"It’s subversive, restrained and dripping with atmosphere"

Teenager Jay (Maika Monroe) indulges in a spot of sex only to realise the guy’s gone and passed on more than just disgusting man-germs. A curse? We’re not quite sure, and neither is she. Now an entity only she can see in various human-like forms will hunt her down and kill her, unless, of course, she and her friends can find a way to stop it and/or pass the curse on to someone else...

I know what you’re thinking; ‘teenagers passing a curse to one-another through sex? Sounds kinda dumb,’ but no, it’s actually a clever, well-made modern horror movie.

It seems clear that director/writer David Robert Mitchell was adamant to tackle something current but with a throwback to 1980s horror that bastardise American suburbia and satirises teenage society. And that’s exactly what he achieves.

Ultimately, it’s the age-old tale of growing up, but with demons. The underlying subtext isn’t hard to spot, either. The idea of contracting a curse from sex is a representation of teenage angst surrounding sex; not just regarding STDs, but also the emotional effects. I mean, instead of contracting a curse, if Jay instead had an accidental baby who kept following her around, that would be just as terrifying because babies are awful and horrific as well, or am I alone on this?

If you’re familiar with Mitchell’s previous film, The Myth Of The American Sleepover, then you won’t be surprised by how sweet it actually is. It’s essentially a film about a bunch of friends coming together to help one deal with the ongoing trauma of a bad sexual experience. There’s a sweet sub-plot with Paul (Keir Gilchrist), who is obviously head over heels for Jay, but doesn’t seem like a two-way street. But the best thing about this is that it doesn’t hammer this point into our heads. Yes, the connections are there, but let’s focus on some scares, and thankfully it does.

First and foremost, this is a horror movie, and a really good one at that. It’s subversive, restrained and dripping with atmosphere; I was completely drawn into the tense story. The director achieves this engrossing affect by having long, beautifully crafted shots in the scarier moments, allowing the audience to almost fall into the frame and feel every detail. The slow, atmospheric-build effect is also achieved with the help of an awesome synth score, heavily inspired by those of the late 70s and 80s. The electronic music constantly rises throughout scenes, playing with our expectations; we expect jump scares, but then we are sent back to a safe environment. This constant prodding and teasing by the film score and cinematography leaves the audiences in a state of being on edge, despite it perhaps being an amusing scene.

Sure, there are few jumps here and there, but they feel earned amongst the constant forbidding tone that rises throughout the story. The performances throughout are really strong. If you’re going to make a film centered on a group of teens, you’d better makes sure the group has chemistry and that the actors can play with that. They all seem naturalistic and feel like real characters, not just cardboard cut-outs. There aren’t any recognisable faces really, but if you’re watching closely you’ll recognise lead Maika Monroe as the girl in The Guest, which is another great horror/thriller that was inspired by 80s John Carpenter movies.

It Follows is an awesome horror movie with a strong concept and wastes none of its potential. It never drags, nor does it rush - it’s like the perfect Jazz drummer (see Whiplash). It shows restraint when it comes to gore or cheap scares, it also lets the atmosphere speak for itself and undercuts its nail-biting anxiety with off-kilter, yet incredibly funny wit.

For a film that’s main scares consist of weird looking people slowly walking towards the camera, It Follows knows its job is to create a good atmosphere. It also has a heart and a brain, which is nice to see in films nowadays.

The main thing is that It Follows will entertain, scare and does exactly what it sets out to do really, really well.