Film review: adolescence takes a creepy turn in It Follows

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 June, 2015, 10:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 July, 2015, 8:16pm

A blurry, indeterminate figure in the distance walks slowly towards the camera: amazingly, this recurrent, blink-and-you-miss-it scene is all it takes for writer-director David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American Sleepover) to freak out audiences in his second feature, It Follows.

Light on special effects but rich with symbols (for sexually transmitted diseases and other psychosexual allegories), the Detroit-set horror mystery follows high school student Jay (Maika Monroe) — the object of desire in her suburban neighbourhood — as she emerges from a sexual encounter with the news that "it" has been transmitted to her.

The genius of It Follows lies in the simplicity of its set-up. The shape-shifting entity that begins to plague Jay takes the form of a person — visible only to the afflicted, either as someone she knows or a complete stranger — who relentlessly follows her on foot with the aim of killing her.

And then there's another conceit to this personalised zombie chase: Jay can pass the curse on by having sex with someone else. The young woman is not lacking in volunteers, such as her smooth neighbour Greg (Daniel Zovatto) and shy childhood friend Paul (Keir Gilchrist), but there's no easy escape from the seemingly indestructible force.

Despite its many nods to John Carpenter's genre classics, It Follows substantiates its originality by delving deep into the viewers' primal fears. In Mitchell's intensely creepy movie, the dread only keeps on building until the end.

It Follows opens on June 25