Saturday, 28 February 2015



Well, hurrah. It's taken such a long time but finally, finally, a teen horror movie that's thoughtful, intelligently made, beautifully shot, and which doesn't contain the kind of loudmouthed idiot characters, that so many second-rate horror movies seem to be saddled with (are you listening, Zombeavers?). Nor does it feel the need to season the proceedings with lazy injoke genre references: in short, it treats the audience like grown adults rather than idiots or fanboys - or fangirls, as this is also a pleasingly female led film.

There is an evil entity out there: an implacable, remorseless demon, visible only to you, that will be forever on your trail until it catches and kills you. It starts following you when you have sex with its current prey, and the only way to get rid of it is to sleep with someone else, at which point it will start following them. But if (or when) it kills them, it will then turn its attentions back to you and work its way back up the chain of sexual transmission. So it's a world where either abstention or casual promiscuity will save your life but monogamous fidelity will get you killed. Jay (Maika Monroe, from The Guest) is the latest recipient of this curse: can she and her friends find a way to defeat the demon without condemning her next partner to the same fate and the same ethical dilemma?

With the exception of a climactic resolution that's perhaps too easy and simple, It Follows is terrific. Its characters are all likeable and interesting, there's an electronic score by Disasterpeace (aka Rich Vreeland) that recalls early John Carpenter soundtracks, and writer/director David Robert Mitchell shows a fondness for long takes and slow pans of 360 degrees (and sometimes more) as well as a handful of perfectly timed jump scares - jumps which don't feel forced or cheap or just put there to keep people shrieking (are you listening, Woman In Black 2?).

And it looks gorgeous: it should be savoured on a huge cinema screen rather than shrunk down to even the largest domestic TV set. Rich, colourful photography is more effective, and more enjoyable, than dark realism or shaky camcorder (are you listening, Paranormal Activity saga and the last hundred indifferently lensed horror quickies?). This is also a movie that pleasingly dispenses with the teen horror movies' traditional authority figures whose job is to waste time telling the kids they're imagining things when we know they're not. Parents, in particular, are barely visible. It's nice to find a film where they don't debate and discuss the plot's absurdities, and instead simply steamroller through them.

In case it wasn't clear: I thoroughly enjoyed It Follows, in the way I haven't liked a suburban teen horror movie in quite a while. It harks back to the 80s supernatural bogeyman subgenre - there's a clear callback to A Nightmare On Elm Street at one point - and it has the occasional burst of visceral gore (though not enough to earn an 18 certificate), and it even ends with the subtlest of suggestions that maybe it's not all over after all. One of the best, and best-crafted, teen horrors in ages, and absolutely worth seeing.


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