It Follows Review
by E. Andreassen
*** 3 Stars
This supernatural horror dabbles with the inexplicable fear of being watched and hunted, twisting the viewer’s mind into a state of paranoia and gut-wrenching anxiety with the use of a compelling script and unnerving yet simplistic plot and dynamic cinematography.
It Follows is a 2014 American supernatural psychological horror film written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, starring Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Jake Weary and Daniel Zovatto. The story follows a young teenage girl named Jay Heights-played by Maika Monroe- after she has a frightening sexual encounter with a mysterious date. When Jay begins to think her life is about to open whole new doors to freedom, things take an unexpected turn for the worst as she fails to shake the disturbing sensation that something is following her every move, lurking in the shadows.
Despite Mitchell’s lack of experience and encounters in the film industry, the director has successfully produced his first coming-of-age drama The Myth of The American Sleepover released in 2010, so it is without question to assume that It Follows promises a positive experience for a fresh pair of eyes. This supernatural horror dabbles with the inexplicable fear of being watched and hunted, twisting the viewer’s mind into a state of paranoia and gut-wrenching anxiety with the use of a compelling script and unnerving yet simplistic plot and dynamic cinematography. Mitchell skilfully executes an immersive transition of a truly haunting concept from print to screen.
The narrative most certainly deserves praise through its ability to trap and entice an audience: the minimalist dialogue and lingering gaps in the story leave viewers clasping to the edge of their seats, desperate to learn more about the supposed demonic entity festering in Jay’s life. However, these questions go unanswered, conforming with the director’s intention to centre the fear experienced by the audience strictly on the uncertain. Though it is without saying that the decision to do so leaves the film with a number of blank spaces and plot holes that only seem to insatiate the viewer, not satisfy. What are the origins of this creature? is there a specific goal or motive for the creature? If so, is there a symbolic nature to this creature that alludes to an underlying message in the narrative.
While there hasn’t necessarily been any clarification to the message that the story intends to deliver, Mitchell also carefully incorporates a mix of colour imagery for foreshadowing and character concept purposes. For example, Jay is commonly depicted wearing white or light-coloured clothing, especially before her first sexual encounter. This is potentially done to suggest Jay’s pure nature in comparison to the reoccurring crimson imagery that seems to allude to sinister or deviant forces at play. This idea is further explored during the scene of the aftermath of Jay losing her virginity. She is witnessed hanging outside of her boyfriend’s car plucking at white flowers, a scene that seems to suggest the commencing of a traumatic event as the camera shot specifically focuses on the comparison of the white petals of the flowers to the red nail polish on her fingertips. It is a calculated detail that notifies the audience of Jay’s infection even before the characters are even aware, helping to build a sensation of dread. However, the creature also appears to be a disturbing manifestation of the two concepts, brandishing a set of plain white garments and dripping blood which seems like an attempt of the director’s part to disorientate and confuse the audience.
It is possible to look over the somewhat hasty, plot-hole prone aspect of It Follows as it is a psychological horror bound to take you on a spine-chilling mind-bending visual experience as the mystery behind the supernatural, and morbid visuals of the film, work in a relatively cohesive manner to achieve an unnerving on-screen effect.
It Follows is currently available on BBC iPlayer and was rated 15 by the BBFC.