It Follows is a creepy horror mystery from 2014, a scary movie without the need for blood or violence.
The story begins with a typical night of a girl getting pretty for a date.
Waiting for this moment with her boyfriend, they make love in his car after a night at the movies.
But soon after, he narcotizes her, and she awakens bound to a chair amid a ruined building.
Trying to calm her down, he claims not to want to hurt her yet warns that something will try to kill her.
Just then, a strange, utterly naked woman appears on the horizon, slowly walking towards them.
However, before she can reach them, he loads her back into the car, and they drive off.
After dumping her in the middle of the street in front of her house, he disappears again.
At first, she thinks he is simply crazy, but she starts seeing strange people following her everywhere a few days later.
This continuous torment seems to have no end except passing it on to someone else through sex, as the boy did with her.
Still, if these presences kill the victim, they will come back to haunt whoever passed this curse on to them.
There is nothing left for the girl to do but keep running from place to place, trying to hide from these unstoppable presences.
While she tries to find a solution with her friends, she will inevitably involve them too in this story of horror and fear.
Building fear takes talent
David Robert Mitchell is a director with a still relatively short but already very promising filmography.
Besides 2014’s It Follows, some time ago, I recommended Under the Silver Lake, a fascinating 2018 movie.
Two stories with very different styles and plots, though similar in their pursuit of going outside the box.
In this case, the fear and horror don’t come from easy scenes of violence, sadism, or cruelty.
It relies on two very interesting ideas that are cleverly linked narratively.
The first is the ingenious gimmick of a sexually transmitted curse, almost reminiscent of the tragic AIDS epidemic of the 1980s.
Equally clever and then forcing the protagonists to have sex to get rid of it, at least temporarily.
Thereupon, the school’s prettiest girl becomes a walking bomb causing multiple casualties among her friends.
Secondly, the idea is not to give any face to these vengeful spirits, which can be anyone and anywhere.
Their slow but implacable walk becomes a shadow of fate like the impalpable threat of death was in the Final Destination saga.
Playing brilliantly with these two concepts, the director builds an atypical and suggestive horror where anything can happen.
Only a few others stand out from the crowd making plain horror relying on constant jumpscares and not much else.
But we can always count on independent cinema, as at least movies like 2014’s It Follows don’t need big budgets to make them.
On the extremes of life between sex and death
This tale relies upon all the genre stereotypes, albeit without a single slasher sequence.
The protagonist is the young Maika Monroe, the usual beautiful student who has continually slipped into all kinds of horror stories.
The actress has already starred in numerous movies, demonstrating a versatile talent despite her age.
The curse has an obvious but original basis, which we have all experienced firsthand and know well.
Who among us has never had a nightmare in which he escapes from a monster that chases him?
Initially appearing to be the classic crazed killer, Jake Weary‘s character soon becomes just another victim instead.
This is another actor with a long filmography, yet perhaps only here does he stand out for the first time.
The horror moment during the sex scene between the teenagers is another cliché that the director turns into something new and original.
Sex and death in cinema have always had an ambiguous and inextricable relationship, symbolizing life’s beginning and end.
Fortunately, considering its low budget, It Follows grossed quite well at the box office in 2014.
It’s a small victory for quality entertainment, almost unknowingly becoming avant-garde art and inspiration.
So let’s hope that new filmmakers follow suit with movies like this one, then turning where they prefer to find their way.
Personally, I’m sick of trite horror, all screams and chases, preferring something more intelligent and thought-provoking instead.