“It Follows” is the ideal film to screen for a high school sex-ed class. “It” is a sexually transmitted disease like none other. After a bizarre sexual encounter, Jay Height (Maika Monroe) begins to see apparitions. “It” can appear in any shape or form, including even that of a loved one, and “It” does exactly what the film title says “It” does. The only way to eliminate “It” is to transfer “It” to another person via sexual intercourse, and that strategy alone is erroneous, considering everyone in the film who does transfer “It” is still plagued by the apparition. Jay hesitates before considering that route, and with a few friends, the battle begins to get rid of “It” once and for all.
In contrast to the description on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is not necessarily “terrifying,” but it definitely leaves a mark. There are a few jump-scares, but what actually appears induces open mouths and bulging eyes. This isn’t because the apparitions are “terrifying,” but rather shocking to look at in the sense that the majority of these apparitions are baring all for the world to see. In other words, the primary symptom of the STD “It” will cause a bunch of naked strangers to appear stepping slowly towards you. But this is where the film’s genius lies. Viewers will have themselves jumping at everything—even the theater attendant’s routine doorway check could induce a heart attack. That’s one of the many ways “It Follows” stays with you. The aspect of paranoia is key to the film’s success.
The film’s stylistic approach to the horror genre is impressive. Using soft tones and careful attention to camera shots, it maintains a chilling hold without sacrificing the art of film. The opening scene holds quite a long shot length for a horror film and saves its unnerving score for later. The source of the girl’s fear is unknown, but her panicked expression as she runs aimlessly in high heels in the street along with the simplicity of the shot is still engaging. It’s an indie film and at times it is rather easy to forget a horror film is on the screen. It’s also nearly impossible to know what decade the story takes place. Characters are seen drinking “Cola” and reading “PlayPen,” but Yara (Olivia Luccardi) is shown constantly reading off her Kindle in the shape of a seashell.
“It Follows” thankfully isn’t churned out of a Hollywood machine. The most recognizable actor is Keir Gilchrist, who plays the love stricken Paul with his signature timidity seen in the series “United States of Tara” and the film “It’s Kind of a Funny Story.”
“It Follows” wasn’t planning on being as successful as it was. Originally, the film was going to show in a few theaters and then directly release to video. But the raving reviews and heavy demand pushed back its video release date to allow the film to spread across the nation. However, it is spreading with ease. Slowly, “It” is creeping into more and more theaters. You’ve been warned.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Sammi Brennan can be reached at Samantha.Brennan@spartans.ut.edu.