When I first saw the previews for the movie, It Follows, and noticed that it had received critical acclaim at the Cannes Film Festival, I knew I had to see this movie. After watching it, I’m not surprised that so many people loved it. When describing the movie to a friend, I called it: “A love letter to 80’s horror movies without being cheesy.” The movie has the horror suspense of A Nightmare on Elm Street, but without all of the gore.
One thing I noticed right off the bat when the movie began was the audio. The movie opens with the sounds of nature, every day sounds like birds chirping. We see a typical middle-of-the-road neighborhood, which I liked. Too often in horror movies these days, we see movies set in rich neighborhoods. I think this is an easy way to explain the absence of parents (mom and dad are working their tails off so we can lounge by the indoor spa and have parties where everyone gets killed). The main character in this movie, Jade, likes to swim in an above ground pool at her house–another nod to her “average” status in life because above ground pools are way cheaper than in-ground pools. Jade is your typical nice, quiet girl with a tiny bit of a wild streak. It seems like she goes to community college, but is still fairly young, so I’m guessing she’s supposed to be around 19 years old.
Jade becomes intimate with Hugh, a guy she dates for a little while. As a result, she becomes infected by an evil entity that has one single desire–to kill her. Hugh tells her that if she becomes intimate with someone else, she will pass the entity on to them, but Jade is reluctant to put anyone else in this same situation. The movie shows Jade being followed by this mysterious force, struggling to outrun it and faced with the decision of whether or not she will transfer her fate.
There are some things that I found interesting about this movie. First of all, I loved the music. If you are not one for dated music, you will probably hate it. However, the music was so simple, it sounded like synthesized music and reminded me of both the music from A Nightmare on Elm Street and Halloween. To put it simply, it just gets stuck in your head. Another element that I thought was interesting was the choice not to jam-pack the movie full of blood and guts. There is some messiness in the opening sequence that makes you cringe a bit and some toward the last few scenes as well. For the most part, though, the audience relies heavily on Jade’s facial expressions in order to feel panic. Kudos to actress Maika Monro, who plays Jade, for pulling off a terrified look without seeming over the top.
Let’s talk special effects. The “messy” scene I described in the beginning of the movie is pretty good. I am always a fan of something that takes viewers just a little off guard. Two other special effects I’d like to give a nod to (no spoilers) are the scenes with hair pulling and the table cloth. Once you’ve seen those, feel free to comment on if you liked them as well! There is also a sequence where blood spills in a swimming pool. The effect is a bloom sequence which weirdly enough, just looks pretty. I think what is so great about these special effects is that it’s almost as if they were used for a rainy day. What I mean by that is, there weren’t too many special effects to the point that the viewer would get used to them and stop watching the movie, there was only enough to keep the viewer engaged in the plot. This strategy, in my opinion, was a smart strategy for the director to use.
There were things not to like about the film as well. One of the characters carries around what I’m guessing is supposed to be a tiny iPad, but is in the shape of a seashell. I kept thinking, “Wwhat the hell?” Maybe there was a copyright issue, I don’t know, but it just looked cheesy. I would almost rather the character have just been reading an actual book. The other thing was that scenes in pools were used just a little bit too much. Although I understand that the swimming pools were probably meant to be a symbol of purity and innocence and maybe the “washing away of sins,” I still think one or two of those scenes probably could have been cut. Lastly, there is A LOT of nudity in this movie. I understand why it’s relevant to the plot, but still, it’s A LOT, A LOT.
Over all though, I really did love this movie. It was a nice little vacation away from all of the horror movies that have become the same cookie-cut standard in Hollywood today. I could picture myself watching this movie over and over again. I recommend it for those who love old horror movies, but I would say stay away from it if you are expecting a high kill count. If anything, this movie is at least a great conversation piece for a group of friends hanging out at the local pub.
If you’re curious to see what all the fuss is about, check out a link to the trailer for It Follows below.
AND just for giggles and kicks, here is a link to the trailer for A Nightmare on Elm Street. Enjoy!