It Follows - Bound in WheelchairIt isn’t a rash or puss-filled blisters, nor does it cause a burning and itching sensation in the nether regions. Still, it’s deadly. This STD is from Detroit. And there is no stopping its drive and determination. Not even a condom can stop infestation.

Thankfully, the symptom of this mysterious sexually-transmitted disease is slow moving; then again, it is certain to follow.  It comes in the guise of killer phantoms that only the infected can see. The cure is as deadly as the disease: “All you have to do is pass it on to someone else.”

Bloody Rundown

Detroit houseIt Follows defies the clichéd conventions of teen screams. Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, the plot derived from a recurring nightmare he had as a child. With a mature spin and a coming-of-age sensibility, Mitchell turned his childhood nightmare into a brilliant supernatural horror.

Shot in metro-Detroit, Michigan, Mitchell’s hometown, the film’s aesthetic is appropriate as the fluidity between late-70s, 80s, and the 10s is rather dreamlike.

It Follows - Jay with HughThe film is an allegory of sexually-transmitted diseases—zombie-like phantoms stalk, shapeshift, and then mutilate. Only the infected can see the killer phantoms, and the only cure is to infect another who must infect another. The ironic antidote of this mysterious STD could veer this film into dark-comedy territory; but, it does not. There are, however, moments of understated humor.

It Follows - FieldThe film focuses on four teenagers who band together around Jay Height, the young woman infected. This group of teens are on the margins of society. With little parental supervision, they come together to form their own family. They remain steadfast in their resolve to help Jay thwart the phantom zombies, in spite of her supposed or real paranoia. Their rapport, similar to that of the teenage group in A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), is endearing and faithful.

if_01All the performances are impressive and star-making. Maika Monroe delivers an emotionally-heightened, vulnerable portrayal in the lead role of Jay. In combination of talent and looks, Monroe is reminiscent both of Brittany Murphy (Cherry Falls (2000)) and Catherine Deneuve (Repulsion (1965)). Similarly, Daniel Zovatto, in his portrayal of Greg Hannigan, echoes Johnny Depp’s role of Glen Lantz in A Nightmare on Elm Street. Keir Gilchrist plays the awkward Paul who yearns for love. Olivia Luccardi plays Yara the crass bookworm while Lili Sepe plays Jay’s younger sister Kelly, the wanna-be rebel. And, finally, Jake Weary portrays Hugh, the object of unrequited love whose role serves as the catalyst to this saga.

It Follows - PhantomMitchell’s minimalist aesthetic is complimented by the musical score. Rich Vreeland, credited as Disasterpeace, composed the synthesizer-laden score on his laptop. Purely transgressive, the music is eerie and hypnotic, yet astutely jarring. Known for his video-game compositions, It Follows is Vreeland’s feature-film debut, and is somewhat evocative of John Carpenter’s iconic Halloween theme song. Vreeland’s first effort at scoring horror is anything but a disaster—it’s brilliant. The innovative soundtrack was released as a digital booklet, and is also available on CD as well as a limited-edition of vinyl (1,000 records).    

Too original for knockoffs not to follow, the open-ended conclusion of It Follows also sets itself up for an inevitable sequel and possible franchise.
It Follows - Bloody Pool

Die-Anne’s Diatribe

It Follows is an authentic, refreshing horror that needs to be seen. The entirety of the film is stellar.  So it pains me to state this, but I did not find the film that scary.

It Follows - SistersPerhaps I am immune. Or perhaps I saw it with the wrong  person— someone very dear to me who inexplicably has little interest in horror. I had mistakenly thought the flask of vodka I snuck into the movie theater would keep her preoccupied—and silent. But my bribe had an opposite effect. My buzzed movie-mate periodically interrupted my suspension of disbelief, nudging me with questions and commentary. I doubt she’ll be joining me for the sequel.

Additionally, the 360-degree pan was more dizzying than effective. (Point taken after round two.)  And, finally, I was hoping for more avant-garde gore as shown in the first scene. The entire audience gasped at that ghastly visual, including my movie-mate. Sadly, the gore in the remaining scenes is pretty tame.

Deadly Details

Director ∞ David Robert Mitchell
Producers ∞ Rebecca Green, Laura D. Smith,
     David Robert Mitchell, David Kaplan, and Erik Rommesmo
Screenwriters ∞ David Robert Mitchell
Music ∞ Disasterpeace
Cinematographer ∞ Mike Gioulakis
Editor ∞ Julio C. Perez IV
Special Effects ∞ Krisz Drouillard
Production Company ∞ Animal Kingdom; Northern Lights Films;
Two Flints

Distributor ∞ RADiUS-TWC
Release Date ∞ March 13, 2015
Running time ∞ 100 Minutes
Country ∞ United States
Language ∞ English

Cast ∞
Maika Monroe as Jay Height
Keir Gilchrist as Paul
Olivia Luccardi as Yara
Lili Sepe as Kelly Height
Daniel Zovatto as Greg Hannigan
Jake Weary as Hugh / Jeff
Bailey Spry as Annie
Carollette Phillips as Woman with Groceries
Loren Bass as Annie’s Father
Debbie Williams as Mrs. Height
Charles Gertner as Neighbor Boy
Ruby Harris as Mrs. Redmond
Linda Boston as Teacher
Leisa Pulido as Mrs. Hannigan
D.J. Oliver as Police Officer
Ingrid Mortimer as Old Woman in Pajamas
Kourtney Bell as Chatting Girl
Alexyss Spradlin as Girl in Kitchen
Mike Lanier as Giant Man
Claire Sloma as Greg’s Date (Pretty Girl in Car)
Scott Norman as Homeless Man Behind Tree
Erin Stone as High School Girl in Courtyard
Joanna Bronson as Nurse
Don Hails as Old Naked Man
Ele Bardha as Mr. Height