I felt like It Follows was following me around before I even saw it. The critical acclaim for the horror indie was everywhere. Festival successes, limited release box office victories, and a Rotten Tomatoes score virtually unheard of in current horror. I waited - impatiently - for it to come to a city near me and when it did, I rushed to the theater. I told my husband the film was about a girl who is followed by an unknown being and her frantic quest to shake this from her life. As we sat in the theater waiting for it to begin, he commented that he was afraid because we hadn’t watch a horror in a while and this could terrify him.
It Follows didn’t terrify me, but it sure did creep the hell out of me. And even better than a horror film with cheap, jumpy scares you forget moments after they’re over, It Follows continues to follow me around, creeping me out and sticking with me even weeks later. Released in 2015 and shot for probably $10, It Follows tells the story of Jay, a college student who contracts a pretty interesting STD from her boyfriend. After having sex with him for the first time, he informs her that a creature will now follow her around and attempt to kill her. A creature with no permanent appearance. It could look like a stranger, your neighbor, the Jolly Green Giant. And the only way to get rid of this affliction is to pass it on by having sex with someone else.
It Follows is a simple story, but one that turns horror a little on its head. Punishment after sex is a horror film staple. Jason Voorhees would be out of a job if it wasn’t for slutty kids. It Follows puts a new spin on it though. In other horror films, sex is seen as reckless and therefore punishable by gruesome death. In this movie though, Jay is just a normal girl who has sex with her boyfriend. And the consequence is she spends her days glancing over her shoulder to see if someone is following her. And to end the madness she must have sex again! Yes, she must perform the action she was originally punished for. And essentially screw someone else’s life. That’s a pretty sweet villain if you ask me; one that makes you do what you shouldn’t have done to begin with and makes you ruin someone else’s life. The indie film rocks a killer retro soundtrack that reminded me immensely of the original Halloween and the tone throughout the film will make your skin crawl. Jay is paranoid; she never knows who or what will follow her and when it will happen. She runs away a lot. Paranoia is a powerful, powerful emotion and a very convincing performance by newcomer Maika Monroe sells this character. Viewers will be scared right along with Jay.
You won’t jump out of your seat watching this film. You won’t shriek in terror. But you will be very, very uncomfortable. The characters who follow Jay are visually shocking and definitely do horror justice. It’s a great story and a lovely throwback to horror gone by. When I left the theater, I won’t lie, I kept looking over my shoulder for people following me. Movies like It Follows are what make saving horror worth it.
If you liked It Follows, you might also like Sinister, The Shining and You're Next.