By Jackie Kazim, Staff Writer
It Follows is not the kind of movie that sticks with you long after the end credits have rolled. By the time the lights had turned on, I had pretty much written off the emotions the movie had stirred. I had no desire to ponder it for hours, no desire to dissect its various layers, because the whole movie felt relatively flat.
That’s not to say it is bad. During the hour and 40 minute run time, I was definitely engrossed. It all comes down to atmosphere, and It Follows’ greatest strength is its ability to craft an engaging atmosphere.
The film follows Jay (Maika Monroe), a college student who is of conventional attractiveness. She is introduced as somebody who seems to get a lot of attention from males, and she goes on a date with Hugh (Jake Weary). Over time, the progression of their relationship finally reaches to the two of them having sex, with the scene climaxing as Hugh drugs her. When Jay wakes up, she is tied up, and Hugh forces her to watch and notice as a mysterious figure starts slowly approaching her. The rest of the film chronicles Jay’s struggles as this creature continues to follow her.
One of the most striking comments on the film is that it’s the most creative take on horror since Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, but honestly, all I saw was the same horror techniques in a more elevated way. There are still the fake jump scares, such as balls literally hitting the window when things are tense, still those silences where the audience is led to believe the monster has gone away, only to have it appear suddenly along with the screams of all the main characters.
It’s strange though. It’s almost impossible to tell if it’s trying to make a commentary and parody the horror genre, or if it falls into these clichés unintentionally.
The best part of the entire film is the soundtrack, which is dominated by the 80s-influence creepy musical score. It’s that exact influence that seems to be an extended metaphor for the entire movie. It’s the same old, just done slightly better than previous attempts.
The cinematography utilizes slow, extended pans and shots of longer duration to heighten the unease felt by the characters. The music was easily the strongest aspect of the film. Most of the film was built by the crispness of subtle sounds, such as plucking grass or the movement of water. It was an effective contrast to the loud and chaotic moments of greater tensions. Regarding lighting, everything is brighter than just the gritty or dark atmosphere of a typical horror film but still selective enough to feel the sense of foreboding.
At the end of the day though, all I went home with was an interest in downloading the film’s music. No fear of people walking behind me slowly. No greater questions about the mythology created (aside from a few questions about the plot holes).
It Follows is better than blockbuster horror films. It has more time and effort put towards the world building, but the overall concept wasn’t done well enough to deserve the praise it has been receiving.