There are few films these days which are able to instill a sense of both mystery and dread without seeming either campy (I’m looking at you Insidious) or just descending into formulaic predictability (sorry Paranormal Activity).
When I first heard of ‘It Follows’, the supernatural feature from David Robert Mitchell, I’ll admit that I though it sounded a bit…shit. And yet the reason I was hearing about it was because critics and personalities alike were talking about how damn good it was.
This seemed like a real contrast, how could a film about a sexually transmitted haunting receive such critical acclaim? Seriously, since when has a horror film had 97% on rotten tomatoes? (Side note; I am very open to people giving me other such examples)
Now, it took me a while to get around to actually watching this film, and the more I heard about it the less I understood what could possibly be so good about it.
Then I watched it…
The opening scene, in which a young girl runs around in sheer panic in broad daylight, sobbing as she disregards the people around her in a desperate bid to get away from seemingly nothing, whilst awesomely 80’s synthey tones build in the background, grabbed me. I was following…
This film creates such an intense sense of tension and dread, making you feel so ill at ease for a majority of it’s running time; this is largely due to the unpredictability of the apparition, and the fact that it is literally always making its way towards its victims. Literally, wherever they are, it is headed there. And to make matters worse, only the person afflicted with the curse can see it, resulting in sheer confusion from the protagonists as they try to understand what is causing their friend so much distress.
Further to this, it takes on a different form each time it reappears, all of which, whilst still technically human, are freakishly otherworldly and horrifying in their appearance.
It’s a testament to the director that he was able to construct a horror film which doesn’t just rely on darkness for its scares. The uneasy atmosphere permeates throughout the whole of the film, taking it away from the usual trope of night time being the only time you feel unsafe or relying on creepy locales for its setting. Many scenes take place in broad daylight, or around the main characters’ suburban neighborhood. There’s even a scene in a school, reminiscent of Nancy’s waking nightmare in A Nightmare on Elm Street, and it’s just as effective and creepy as it was in Wes Craven’s horror classic.
Nowhere is safe…
I’d be lying if I said that the film’s setting and premise were the only stars of the show, though; the soundtrack, composed entirely by Chiptune artist Disasterpeace, is absolutely phenomenal.
It consists exclusively of synthey, 8bit tones that would have been right at home in a classic John Carpenter movie, and represents everything I love about the best 80’s movie soundtracks.
It follows the action as it unfolds, building in it’s intensity and erraticism
as the action picks up, and really adds to the feeling of unpredictability, paranoia and panic that the film is built upon. Seriously, it’s one hell of a soundtrack, and the director should be commended for opting for such an unconventional and unexpected soundtrack almost as much as Disasterpeace should be commended for composing it.
The cast get a notable mention too; whilst all pretty much unknowns, this is an independent film after all, they all pull their weight, conveying believable characters who are all struggling to come to terms with the supernatural force that is pursuing their friend. Had they not been so believable, the film could have been a far harder sell.
I have no doubt that this is the best original horror film I’ve seen in the past few years, and I recommend it wholeheartedly to anyone who enjoys horror that doesn’t rely on heavy gore or cheap scares.
It might make you think twice about that next one night stand though…
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