[WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS MILD SPOILERS FOR “IT FOLLOWS” (2014).]
A smaller budget doesn’t hurt this great indie horror film; I’d give “It Follows” a 9 out of 10.
It’s smart, surreal, creepy and atmospheric, and it’s beautifully shot. Maybe it has some similarities with “The Ring” series, and also the little known excellent horror film, “From Within” (2008), but it’s still darkly creative and original.
It’s damn scary too — it’s terrific what this film accomplished with what looks like minimal CGI. For some reason, a certain shot of a rooftop really got under my skin. So, too, did a sequence depicting friends unable to warn a major character, because they’re unable to see “It” approach.
I have always had a weird thing about dopplegangers. Other people hate clowns; I get creeped out by shapeshifters. I’m frightened by any monster that can masquerade as allies or loved ones. It’s part of the reason that the Alien Bounty Hunter worked so well for me as an antagonist on “The X Files” (1993), and why the T-1000 scared me in “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” (1991). Even Mystique, “The X-Men” franchise’s anti-hero, could be a little unsettling every once in a while. (An attack on Wolverine BY Wolverine? Leaving his confused teammates unable to help? That’s a little creepy.)
There are a bunch of themes served up by “It Follows” that you could walk away discussing with your friends; online critics are quick to point out sexually transmitted disease. (A little on the nose, don’t you think?) They also pointed out mortality — this was something that I actually missed, despite the fact that it was helpfully hinted at by one character who periodically reads Dostoyevsky aloud.
I personally thought the film tapped into a bunch of sexual taboos and anxieties — especially incest. Consider the conversation about one character kissing a sibling, a face we see in a framed photograph toward the end, and the way “It” attacks another major character. I also saw victimization — as with “The Ring,” the victims of the monster here are presented with a tremendous moral quandary about how they might save themselves or at least forestall an attack.
Is water a motif? Much screen time is devoted to characters entering pools or the ocean; one person also begs for water during an attack.
And what about wealth? Much seems to be suggested by characters traveling from an affluent neighborhood to a poor one. And all those sweeping shots (and excellent long tracking shots) of the protagonists’ beautiful neighborhood really stayed with me. I kept thinking about how much I’d like to live there.
I’d love to know more about the origin and modus operandi of “It.” There is a sequel planned, according to Wikipedia; that’s one of its possible plots.
This is a terrific scary movie! Watch it tonight!