What happens when you combine Napoleon Dynamite, Brick, the Slender Man mythos, PT, an incredible synth soundtrack, and Kubrick style cinematography? You get It Follows, the best horror film of the year. It is original, professionally shot, and succeeds in being genuinely scary. If you need to see a horror movie, skip everything else and watch It Follows.
After having sex with her boyfriend, Jay, played by Maika Monroe, finds out she has inherited a curse. A ghostly figure will follow her wherever she goes, unless she can pass it on to another partner. Jay teams up with her ragtag group of friends to figure out how to stop the ghost before it kills her.
It is ironic a horror film made me feel more happiness than the supposed comedy I watched yesterday. I am not a fan of horror because I am a wuss, but I cannot be more thankful I got my balls up to watch It Follows. It was worth the jump-scares and the obnoxious prick that sat next to me.
The premise is a mix of body horror and possession. Only the cursed can see the ghost, but it can affect objects and other people while appearing invisible. The ghost comes in many human forms, each a presumed victim of physical trauma, both living and dead. While not scary in appearance, the slow approach of the ghost to the cursed is frightening on its own.
This movie is a hypochondriac’s worst nightmare. The ghost symbolizes an invisible, encroaching demise, paralleling the pathology of HIV/AIDS. You never know when you have the disease until symptoms start to show. You can apply the same principle to other diseases, but the use of sex as a way of transmission, leaves no room for interpretation.
That is Body Horror 101.
The most important aspect of humanity is sex and when you create an atmosphere of shame and discomfort, you can affect an audience in ways not unlike psychological torture. It is twice as worse considering the only way to survive is to spread the curse by sleeping with multiple partners. And so we witness Jay, a teenager pushed to the brink of insanity by a menace only she can see, force herself to have sex with other people. On top of that, the way victims are left after the ghost kills them is similar to sex positions. The very notion is terrifying and uncomfortable enough to scare Catholics into using condoms.
These Cronenberg-ian concepts would not be without the most smartly shot Indie film I have seen. Every angle is rife with tension, using a wide lens and darkly natural lighting. Each scene and set is designed to keep you unhinged and afraid of what may or may not present itself. I had my ears plugged throughout in anticipation for a stinger. Even when you see the ghost approaching in its seemingly normal saunter you are terrified. And when you see other actors walking in frame, one cannot discern ghost from person.
The cinematography works in tandem with the brilliant sound design, but it is even more effective in silence. The tension skyrockets in the quiet before a screech of synth punches you right in the ears upon revelation. Furthermore, the tracks by Disasterpeace make for fantastic additions to any synth playlist.
That may sound like your typical jump-scare, in your typical horror movie, but It Follows is anything but typical. It harkens back to the good old days, paying homage to The Shining, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween while appearing modern. It does not hold your hand, giving the audience room to experience what is happening in both story and atmosphere like those classics.
The problems of the film are relative in my opinion. A few plot holes here and there will aggravate the snob in you. Towards the end an inconsistency in general physics will puzzle you to no end. Considering the rest of the movie, none of these issues matter. There could have been Star Trek: Insurrection levels of plot convenience and I would not have said a word.
It Follows is perfect. It is how modern horror should be done. Reboots, remakes, and sequels pale, burn, and crumble in comparison. No matter who you are, go see it. Even if you are easily frightened, see it anyway. Do yourself a favor.