Recommended Viewing Situation:

At the top of ‘make-out point’ with the town bad-boy.

Running Time: 100 minutes.

Format: Digital film on Arri Alexa Plus, Cooke S4, Fujinon Alura, Angenieux Optimo and Arri Shift & Tilt Lenses
Red Epic with Cooke S4 Lenses.

Director: David Robert Mitchell.

Writer: David Robert Mitchell.

Cinematographer: Mike Gioulakis.

Awards: Nominated for the Critics Week Grand Prize at Cannes and Won the Saturn Award for Best Horror Film, and more.

 

It Follows (2014) is both a shining example of horror tropes being turned on their head intelligently and a great exercise in the mechanics of slasher films. More specifically, this movie focuses on the ‘promiscuous-teen-slasher’genre; one that most of us have seen or grown up with (think Sean Cunningham’s Friday 13th (1980) or Wes Craven’s Scream (1996)). Directed and written by David Robert Mitchell, the film follows the young Jamie Height (Maika Monroe), a high school student who, after having sex with her new boyfriend (from out of town) Hugh, is stalked by an uncannily slow moving supernatural beast from the Beyond. It then falls to Paul (Kier Gilchrist), Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and her sister Kelly Height (Lily Sepe) to help unravel the mystery of what follows her.

Now, if at any point this is sounding dreadfully cliché, that’s the point. However, if you are thinking that the film is some kind of Cabin in the Woods (2011)-style pastiche then think again. This film is far more of a mix between Tomas Alfredson’s illustrious Let The Right One In (2008) and Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives (2013). This is, in part, due to the brilliantly inventive soundtrack by American composer Disasterpeace. The oddly retro and at times nostalgic electronic undulations that emanate throughout the film create an atmosphere of apprehension and stasis, immersing you in the narrative as it unfolds and yet allowing you to meditate on each scene. The beautifully ethereal palette of cinematographer Mike Gioulakis only heightens this affect. With his unique use of over exposed blues and whites, reminiscent of a sandy beach in the morning, the film has a wholly surreal and dreamlike quality. The performances from Monroe and Gilchrist are equally outré, delivering their dialogue earnestly but with a twist; every utterance is almost forced and presented as false, creating a sort of Michigan based Absurdist/Brechtian scenario.

Now, this film is by no means perfect. Sometimes the dialogue is slightly too removed from the dramatic action of the scene, creating an effect akin to an irritating kind of teenage apathy. The ending is almost the pay-off that you desire; enough to make you watch the whole film start to finish more than once, but certainly lacking in steadfast consequence. More interesting is the film’s attitude toward sex and coming of age. In fact, this film is as much an avant-garde bildungsroman as it is a postmodern horror; there are definitely some Freudian undertones that encourage broader questions about what it means to become sexually mature in the modern day (for better, or for worse). In fact, one could argue that the film’s creature is really an allegory for the looming spectre of emotionless sexualisation that adolescents of the ’00s face on a day-to-day basis: a fear that we struggle to share with others because it follows only us, or so we think.

-Matthew Iredale