So let me start off by telling you how I watched this movie. My wife is not a fan of anything horror and we currently have identical work schedules so it’s not as if I can watch a movie when she’s not home. What I usually resort to is uploading the movie to my tablet and watching it in bed as she sleeps. This is usually a poor choice since I’m lying down in a silent and pitch black apartment but for some reason I still do it! Anyways let me give you my full review of the 2014 indie hit film, It Follows.
Before I even touch on the story or the characters I have to mention my absolute favourite thing about this movie. In fact I’d watch the movie again for this sole reason. The music. This score for this film was able to transform beautiful scenic shots into terrifying moments of isolation. I can recall one scene in particular when the group is driving towards the beach and this loud violent synthesizer is blaring in the background and all I can remember thinking was how terrified I was. The music invoked the exact emotion in me that I’m sure the main character was feeling. It was as if someone was inspired by Hans Zimmer’s Inception score and said to themselves “if he wrote this score using technology from the 80s, what would it sound like?” It was such a nice chance of pace from the typical shrill violins you hear in movies like Insidious or The Conjuring where they try to scare you by hitting as high a note as they can. Without question the best score to any horror movie I’ve ever seen.
Normally I go on and on about how I hate the groups that are assembled for horror movies. Cabin in the Woods did the best job of explaining the character archetypes and why each one is used for horror films. However I’ve always been of the mind that this is a terrible plot device if you want your audience to relate to the characters. I’m not friends with a goth, a jock, a nerd, a cheerleader and the girl next door. This movie, much to my joy, threw this concept away and put together a very realistic and likeable group of friends. Throughout this film they unquestionably trust the protagonist that she’s seeing something that no one else can see and they do everything they can to protect her…..EVERYTHING (watch the hospital scene). This let you focus on the actual story itself rather than guessing “okay who’s going to die next? Oh good the obnoxious drunk womanizing jock.” The group was made up of relatively unknown actors, some of whom had less than 20 acting credits to their name and this came across but in a good way. In particular with Jay and Paul, these two actors had such a sense of sincerity in how they played these young teenagers who were shy around each other. They didn’t feel like actors acting they felt like real teenagers and this really added to it’s authentic feel. Overall it was great casting and great acting.
When I was younger one of the most terrifying characters that constantly gave me nightmares was none other than T-1000. He was stone faced the entire time, was in 24/7 pursuit of John Connor and was able to change his face at a moment’s notice which let him slip close to John completely unaware. If you’ve seen It Follows then you’d realize I’m also describing the villain from this movie. The thing that made this one just that much scarier is that not once does it speak, explain its motives or have its origin explained. The fact that nothing is explained about this villain made it one of the scariest ones I’ve ever seen, it just literally follows her and walks towards her with a dead pan expression on its many faces. In almost every scene when an extra was in the shot I was convinced it was the villain and I almost began experiencing just what the main character was experiencing. Never have I been so scared of a horror movie villain. But the thing that makes this perhaps the scariest of all the movie monsters was [spoiler alert] they didn’t even kill it. They didn’t beat it and it might not even be over. All they can do is pass it on to someone else and just hope that the next person survives so it doesn’t go back to them. By creating an unkillable – much different than Jason, Michael and Freddy – monster, that doesn’t even really lose in the end they created one of the most frightening villains in recent history.
Normally I think that the dialogue in horror movies is atrocious and the last thing the writers think of when making their movie. Usually their focus is on how violent or gruesome they can make the death scenes and the rest is forgotten. So what you get is cliché, bored writing that doesn’t allow for any character development or growth. It Follows seemed to have made that one of it’s priorities however, despite the minimal talking throughout the film. This – along with the visuals set to 80’s sounding music – is what made this so much like Drive. Words aren’t wasted and the director tells his story through the visuals and sounds. What you’re left with is a group of teenagers who all have incredibly believable dialogue that is entirely natural. So many slasher films have the characters move from conversation to conversation until someone dies. This film however allowed their silence to accurately portray how a group of best friends might hang out. I can’t even tell you how many times my friends and I sat in my parent’s basement playing videogames without speaking word for long periods of time. This made you pay closer attention to when the actors did speak and it made everything they said that much more significant. They told more of their story without speaking than most horror films do with countless pointless conversations. The only complaint I’ll make is that this movie does such a great job of creating slow building terror that it’s climax which is meant to act as the big payoff falters a bit. They escape a little bit too easily and you never really feel like they’re in threat of danger, which is strange since every encounter they had before made you actually feel like they were going to die.
I HIGHLY recommend this movie to everyone. Not just lovers of horror movies, it’s visuals, music and great acting make it enjoyable for literally everyone. If you don’t like horror movies because you hate getting scared then don’t watch this movie, just skip it. It will legitimately terrify you. I’ll give this movie a 9/10. The slightly disappointing climax knocked a point off what would’ve been an otherwise perfect and innovative take on the horror genre.