It Follows looms closer to your soul with every subversive step the titular entity takes. For me, the best variety of horror mechanisms are the contemporary types that deal with suspense and dread. Mundane jump scares rarely work, with minimal to no involvement in terrorising the audience.
But, a mysteriously unknown shape-shifting creature lurking towards the camera at a consistently slow pace? Brutally terrifying. Yet it’s the allegorical nature of Mitchell’s sophomore efforts that truly captivates. After having intercourse with her date, a young girl is stalked by a transmogrifying entity with only the knowledge that she must “pass on” this lurker by sleeping with another person.
Metaphorically exploring the rampant behaviour of teenagers who excessively sleep around, the initial ambiguity in Mitchell’s concept may put many viewers off. Rest assured, that the deathly “tag” premise has an important symbolic power behind it that can be interpreted in multiple different ways, typical from a contemporary horror feature
Personally, withdrawing Disasterpeace’s euphoric 80s synth score that harks back to domestic horrors of its time, it’s a teenager’s nightmare on the passing and experiencing of sexually transmitted diseases. The pedestrian pace of the looming entity relates to the gradual health issues caused by STDs, and Mitchell consistently reminds the audience, through heavy exposition mind you, that it can be temporarily disengaged when “passed on.” Not necessarily permanently removed though.
A haunting yet profoundly imaginative method in societal exploration, whilst still fuelling my nightmares with expertly executed background manipulation. There is nothing more terrifying in film than the camera focusing on something in the background that should not belong. It sends my mind into overdrive! Mitchell’s delicate directorial methods, accompanied with Gioulakis’ cinematography, showcases a myriad a visual talent. The numerous 360-degree rotations, intricate zooms and handheld over-the-shoulder perspectives were intensely choreographed to enhance the well-driven suspense continuously.
Praise must also be given to Monroe who held the film together with her ornate sense of fragility and innocence, teasing with the idea that one can free themselves when not considering the dangers of sex. When she was scared, I certainly felt the same.
As mentioned before, the expositional dialogue that existed for the character of Jeff felt unnatural in paving the rules of “It”. Natural exploration would’ve delivered grander results, however, I’m aware that runtime can be an issue even when offering various open-ended interpretations. The whole swimming pool sequence did nothing for me either and dissipated the beautifully wound suspense that preceded it. Mostly because of how artificial the setup was and the ridiculous amount of plug sockets found adjacent to a swimming pool (health and safety must’ve had a field day!).
Still, It Follows has strangely followed my mind ever since I watched it upon release. It allowed me to dive into a nightmarish vision, interpreting the symbolism for myself whilst perching on the edge of my seat. Minimalist horror at its finest. Just, no more nudity for a while…