Overly concerned with its slow moving camera, tracking/dolly shots and abnormally hazy rooms, “It Follows” puts its story on the back burner with the hope that writer/director David Robert Mitchell’s savvy camerawork will make you forget about all the holes in the film’s plot. It doesn’t.
And seriously, Carpenter could sue the pants off Mitchell on the grounds of plagiarism; Mitchell’s framing of a nameless Michigan suburb is freakin’ identical to the way Carpenter framed his fictional town of Haddonfield, Illinois. Carpenter is clearly a sage to Mitchell, but his abundance of Carpenter-esque shots keeps him directly in Carpenter’s shadow, preventing Mitchell from carving out (pun!) his own style or bringing anything new to the genre.
So what is It Follows about? Adolescent sex. Yawn.
Borrowing the “pass it on rule” from The Ring, Mitchell’s story hinges on the premise that if you have sex with someone who’s already being followed, you will then be followed and the person you just scored some hibbitty dibbitty from will no longer be followed.
But there’s more to this following shit: After you have sex and are no longer being followed, you’re still followed, only the malevolent thing that’s been following you won’t kill you. It will just show up at random times to remind you it hasn’t forgotten. If your thinking to yourself right now, “Hey, this sounds just like my herpes,” you’d be correct, sir/ma’am! In the simplest terms, It Follows is about being haunted and killed by your herpes.
On the plus, It Follows stars the super gorgeous Maika Monroe (check her out in the superior horror/thriller The Guest) as Jay, and to her credit, she tries to carry the emotional weight of the film, but it’s hard to sell the line, “It’s right there, don’t you see it?!” when nothing is actually on the screen.
There are a few scares in It Follows (I won’t ruin them), but none of them are memorable or original. The film also relies heavily on its synth-inspired soundtrack to unnerve you. It’s a shame the musical score doesn’t jive with the onscreen visuals. Had this note been hit, It Follows could have made itself worthy of cult status.
And for reasons unknown, the time period is left totally ambiguous to the viewer, but from the look of the cars and the clothing, it’s somewhere between 1979 and 1982. This aesthetic of “longing for what used to be” gives off a distinct and foul Hipster odor.
Mitchell also throws in a non sequitur subplot concerned with urban decay in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs, however, since the setting is never established at the beginning of the film, these random third act musings about how nice 8 Mile used to be come off as Captain Planet preachy and simply left me jonesing to listen to the Marshall Mathers LP — a real American horror story — instead of watching an original movie masquerading as a John Carpenter movie I’ve seen a thousand times before.
Heineken?! Fuck that shit!
About Bryan Kish
Bryan Kish writes reviews and articles for NID Magazine.