It Follows has become the most talked about horror film of the season thanks to rave reviews and a ridiculous amount of press from not only genre outlets but mainstream ones as well. With so much hype surrounding it, I deemed it necessary to drop everything and see it as soon as possible. As I left the theater, I couldn’t shake the feeling that while what I saw was both engaging and thought-provoking it still somehow missed the mark of true terror.
In It Follows, a teenager (Maika Monroe) has disturbing visions following a strange sexual encounter. She has the inescapable feeling that someone -- or something -- is after her.
I couldn’t help but be intrigued with the premise of what has now become a juggernaut of a horror film. As a Christian who promotes sexual abstinence before marriage, the concept of “It Follows” caught my attention right away. It’s like taking one of the most important “rules” of slasher films and really pounding it home.
“If you have sex, you’re going to die!”
Several viewers will take It Follows as a metaphor for the endless spreading of the AIDS virus through unprotected sex. Others might look at it as a warning that premarital sex never ends well. There’s always emotional baggage we’re left with after the experience. Either way, there’s a lesson to be learned whether it was intentional or not.
Is It Follows actually THAT scary like everyone else says it is? Not really. Is there an ever-present sense of dread and gloom? I would say so. The main problem with the film is that you’re expecting some over-the-top controversial ending thanks to all the hype the media is throwing at us. Sadly, I think most people will find the conclusion unsatisfying.
Another issue I had with It Follows is the way the horror is taken out of the lead character’s head. At first, only she can see the evil coming for her and that provides a certain personal or first-person psychological appeal to the film. Once the “entity” manifests itself to the others like a poltergeist, you start to feel as if you’re just watching another typical supernatural thriller. The novelty of the whole concept just wears off during those segments.
The movie is rated R for disturbing violent and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language. There was definitely way more nudity than there needed to be in order to get the point across. It’s not sensual nudity, either. There’s nothing attractive or stimulating at the flesh we see flash across the screen. The violence is gory and includes a few head shots and blood splatters.
It Follows succeeds in its suspenseful set-up and establishment of an atmosphere of dread and panic. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver any real closure at its conclusion. Some will find this fitting, where others will leave the theater unfulfilled. I was caught somewhere in the middle of dissatisfaction and contentment. Although I enjoyed the basic premise and the unique blend of 1970s and 1980s nostalgia with present day technology, I was left wanting more in the horror department.