Sunday, 5 July 2015

'It Follows' review

To celebrate the DVD release of It Follows, I give a summary of my thoughts on the film. Hit the jump for more...

Firstly, I'd like to apologise for my long absence - I was at DofE and other events that didn't allow me access to a keyboard and monitor to write these reviews. But I'm back now and hope to provide a reliable stream of reviews and news in the future!

Maika Monroe showcases a nice piece of cinematography
So, It Follows. Hmm, it's an unusual one to review. It survives on atmosphere really - every shot feels and sounds like a 1970s/80s horror movie (and Halloween is played on extensively). Indeed, Mitchell wants his film to be clever, and it is; but this could present a problem (I'll come to that later). The story is simple (but unique - and thank god for that): our heroine has intercourse with a guy and soon learns that he passed on a demonic presence, that will follow her at a walking pace until she dies. We know she will die due to the grisly first scene. One problem, only she can see the demon, so she must convince her friends it exists, and then 'pass it on' (a euphemism if I ever heard one).

So, that premise is enough to carry the film, and many metaphors could be derived from it. As the nature of postmodern film analysis goes, audiences and critics will talk of STDs and AIDS in particular (the retrofitted future/alt present oozes the 80s when the 'AIDS epidemic' occurred). However, Mitchell has stated that he doesn't wish for these metaphors to be the substance, he just intended to make a horror movie (nevertheless, there is definitely a subversion of sexequalsdeath in the same way that Cabin in the Woods provided).

Where is the substance then? Well, its really in the execution. For a start, the cast is terrific - first up we have Maika Monroe, whose appearance in the Guest suggests a brand new scream-queen in Hollywood. She brilliantly plays the 'last virgin' archetype, and exudes the charisma of traditional female roles in horror movies (for instance, Halloween). She is joined by a plethora of supporting characters (all teens, of course) who form the merry gang to solve the mystery; well, almost.

Halloween atmosphere - teens working together to solve the case.
Secondly, the visuals are incredible; but also alienating to a modern, non-horror orientated audience. I've said it before, and i'll say it again: you need to see the Evil Dead before you see the Cabin in the Woods. Well, you need to see Halloween before you can appreciate It Follows. The environment, the shots, the creeping menace, the score, and the characters owe so much to Carpenters film. So, without a doubt, some of those I went with to see the film were left slightly underwhelmed by it in relation to critical response. Our characters live in a retrofitted present (the only indicator of modernity is a  clam - shell shaped e-reader on which a character reads 'The Idiot' - itself a work about the imminence of death). There are also no parents, I suspect a nod to Halloween, although adult characters manifest themselves irregularly.

However, the score is one thing we can all agree is absolutely perfect. Disasterpeace crafts a synth masterpiece akin to Carpenters in Halloween and it just feels so perfect. As much as I love the other aspects of the film, I feel as if the soundtrack is the glue and without it, Mitchell wouldn't have such a great piece. At points (If you're interested, look out for when the kids approach the pool) it transcends the filmography entirely and translates into spine chills with its pure excellence.

Haunted house? Urban decay in It Follows
In terms of actual scare factor it's debatable. On one hand, the critics appear to be under some sort of delusion. The film was definitely not the scariest film I've ever seen (then again, neither is Halloween), it meanders a lot, and really takes a long while before the suspense kicks in. On the other hand, it works perfectly. When the tension begins to manifest, it sustains itself for a long period of time, creating a brilliant atmosphere. Also, Mitchell is aware of the modern horror audience. The jumpscare is relatively recent, but omnipresent throughout most film offerings today (even, for instance, comedies). Therefore, he lingers on almost every frame for too long, and sometimes we get a jump, but more often than not the tension remains and is not discharged. As well as this, the film lingers. As ridiculous as it sounds, I was looking over my shoulder for around 24 hours after the credits rolled: I call that a success!

So, to conclude, 'It Follows' looks awesome, sounds awesome, and has an edge - although it may be a bit lost on some who are less literate in horror filmography.
It Follows gets 4 stars!

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