'It Follows' Review

In the 21st century, horror was nearly dead. The jump scares ruled the genre, the torture porn ruled the box office, the smart and original concepts were few and far between. That's how what horror was for a while, but finally - by 2013 it had started sticking its hand out of the grave it was buried in, and as the years continued to go by, it got good again. One of the earlier films to really bring the genre up to speed again, was 'It Follows'.

'It Follows' got me very intrigued with the release of the first trailer. Bringing back slashers in a new way seemed like a natural follow up for the genre after 'The Babadook' pulled off the psychological and 'The Conjuring' pulled off the hauntings. Luckily, for the most part 'It Follows' managed to do just that, make a good slasher movie. This is not to say I see it as a big of a success as those aformentioned movies. The script holds it back from reaching those levels of greatness. If it just had a final home run to really hit it home this would have been something truly phenomenal, but sadly that's not exactly what we get. The script, with the exception of the core concept, is not very special. What is special though is the fantastic John Carpenter inspired soundtrack. I don't often look up soundtracks for horror movies nowadays right after I see them, I think the only other time in many, many years I felt the need to do that was 'The Conjuring'. This theme is excellent, memorable and helps the movie stand out.

Right at the opening I could already tell this was not going to be your usual modern horror movie. This felt controlled, this felt deliberate, this felt good. The atmospheric long take setting up the stakes and intrigue with very little dialogue is extremely well done and with the exception of a pretty goofy end, you're hooked. Like the opening, the rest of the movie looks fantastic. There's this gritty, realistic feel to every shot, something that's frustratingly missing in the big Hollywood horror movies that just end up looking incredibly fake and clean. Because of the low budget here, everything takes place in real locations and none of the scares are incredibly outlandish or rely on goofy CGI (see 'Mama'), they actually take their time to legitimately set up each scare and make sure the audience are engaged with whatever's going on before finally delivering whatever it is they have up their sleeve. It's obvious the director was very passionate about the project and had a solid vision for the look and feel of the film. The world the character inhabit feel so real and tangible thanks to subtle and small things happening in the background that doesn't do anything for the story - but they make each location feel alive.

What sadly does let the movie down however, is the screenplay. By the third act the logic starts falling apart and the abstract nature starts to take over far too much, and you begin wondering if there are maybe a bit too many established rules that don't add up. It's quite easy for me to be pissed off about the film even though I really liked it, because it could so easily have been a masterpiece. It's just frustrating when it falls short because they felt the need to explain the rules too much, only to then go against the very foundation of those rules. This isn't to say the screenplay is downright terrible, it's serviceable, better than most horror movies. The structure is solid, multiple scenes are very creative in how they reveal information and move the plot forward in organic ways and apart from the ending, the characters largely feel like real people. This isn't a screenplay thing but I thought I'd mention as well, at multiple points the camera focuses on things they do that really have nothing to do with what's currently happening in the scene, but it just works as a way to humanize them in subtle a lot of filmmakers don't even think about these days.

Overall, 'It Follows' is at times a great and at times a frustrating film. It could very easily have been a contender for one of the all-time great slashers, instead it remains as merely just a very good horror in the midst of all the junk released by the major studios. The direction is sleek, perfectly showcasing the gritty nature that's been missing in the genre, the performances are quite good all around (although the leading actress,Maika Monroe, stands head and shoulders above everyone else) and of course that soundtrack is just awesome.


- Lucas


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