David Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows” is not your mother’s horror movie . . . but then again, it sort of is. The latest teen horror flick does not even feel like one – it is like if “Halloween” (the 1978 original, obviously) and “The Outsiders” had a baby, and the old man next door, “The Shining,” is calling out sage parenting advice from his front porch. This semblance of sorts knows exactly what it’s doing.
When Jay (Maika Monroe) gets it on with her goin’ steady in the back of his car, she learns that he has been living in constant fear of a shape-shifting, slow walking spirit. Bad news: he just transferred it to her, and the only way to shake her contracted creeper is to pass it on.
What’s a girl to do when she needs to bang away her thing-that-goes-bump-in-the-night but enlist the help of some lovingly deadbeat neighborhood kids? The dreamy and elusive boy next door, Greg (Daniel Zovatto) joins forces with Jay’s sister (Lili Sepe), best bud (Olivia Luccardi) and wanton childhood friend, Paul (Keir Gilchrist). If the “Friend Zone” actually existed, this boy would be in it. Basically, this movie is one big, strangely-sensual ethical dilemma.
The rules of the game are that the supernatural stalker can look like anyone or anything. It appears in the corner of almost every scene, because it walks everywhere, but really, really sinisterly. Honestly, there is nothing scarier than something walking dispassionately toward you – it means it knows it doesn’t have to run to catch you. Your demise is inevitable. And that is why “It Follows” will tail you, viewer, even in the daytime. A slow moving movie like this should not be that terrifying, but Mitchell and crew present an incredibly convincing, entrancing scene.
The film is suspended in time with its cast sporting wardrobes that could either be from 1991 or the Forever 21 sales rack. Its props range from rabbit ears television antennas to smartphones. It transcends a specific time frame and owns its ambiguity with grace. The best way to describe this score is lingering. Think perfectly benign scenes of someone strolling down a suburban sidewalk interrupted by jarring, stabbing whistle tones and recrudescent refrains. However, the admittedly repetitive nature of the accompaniment makes complete sense, as Disasterpeace, most known for creating soundtracks for video games, created it in its entirety.
The storyline is sliced by Tin Man movements, creating jilted scenes that take their time unfolding. And its indiscriminate Detroit landscapes help the film teeter between a #tbt and a cult classic.
The deciding factor on the success of a horror movie is how long after the credits roll the audience members are checking over their shoulders and peering out from behind shower curtains. It has been eight days for me.
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