Last night I watched It Follows in preparation for the next Scary Thoughts podcast. It’s a fun movie with a lot going for it: ingénues, style, and a solid soundtrack (I’m listening to it now). A lot of people might lump it in with the rest of the last few years’ indie horror flicks. It’s fair, but this is more fun house than art house.
I’d say a good 40% of the tension in any scene is built with the score. It has the obligatory John Carpenter vibe with a first-person shooter pace and raspy 8-bit glitch. When It gets close the music becomes metallic and claustrophobic, like a sentient machine that’s been buried alive.
Much of the film’s sets are forcefully boring. The clean Detroit suburbs are anywhere USA. It’s Elm St. architecture. There’s a hazy-dreamy quality to the lighting and the absolute absence of real adult authority give this an abandoned after school special quality.
Young actress Maika Monroe manages to look scared and bored at the same time while remaining alluring. Whenever the weird beings get close she looks like a trapped animal. There aren’t really many jump scares. What you’re reacting to is Monroe freaking out and the accompanying rip of synthesizer creep.
The film makes it difficult to tell when it takes place. Calls are made on big phones, teenagers have brand new old cars, a girl uses a clamshell e-reader, televisions are not flat, fashions are not current. According to interviews with the director David Robert Mitchell, this is by design. It’s intended to disorient the viewer and give the events of the film a dreamlike quality.
People who fuck die. That’s at the heart of this uplifting drama. I guess it’s what’s at the heart of our actual dreary existences if you get down to it. Forget all that. In this film, if you fuck the wrong person, you will die.