Unfortunately, horror movies tend to miss the mark more than they tend to hit it, making for Russian roulette chance-taking. Okay, maybe lucky dip would be a less dramatic analogy, but every now and then in between the found footage threat of the moment, the latest gross out torture porn and the by the number haunted house movies, something different will come at you from left field. ‘It Follows’ is one such movie.
‘It Follows’ offer the premise of a curse-like evil presence that can only be escaped through having sex with someone and making them the next target, but if–or more like it when that person dies the previous partner becomes the target again. It would seem to be a movie offering an opportunistic platform for gratuitous nudity and some hot sex. After all, movies like ‘Saw’ and ‘Hostel’ were a great excuse to push gore to the limit (beyond my limits!), but to judge ‘It Follows’ as a 10s exploitation movie would be inaccurate and a gross injustice. For ‘It Follows’ is restrained in its use of nudity, doesn’t glamorize bodies or sex, or even romantacise the act, and it offers up something fresh while surprisingly walking a path quite familiar in horror.
When someone has had their jolly with someone cursed by the it that follows, they will be approached by a person–it could be a man, or a woman, a stranger, or someone known, but they will be walking straight at them, either with a menacing air, or being frightening through the stalker being somewhere it shouldn’t be, and when it touches the victim… Well, it ends in death–after something harrowing and brutal. This curse tag has been done before in movies like ‘Night of the Demon’, ‘Ring’ and ‘Drag Me To Hell’, but whereas those films require you to pass on an object, or passively watch something, this evil requires that you get intimate with the person you’re going to curse. With obvious analogies to sexually transmitted disease it does a nice job of showing the anguish of knowingly passing the curse on, but thankfully it doesn’t preach and it doesn’t try to make some moralistic point about casual sex. Although if you’re superstitious it might make you think twice before the next one night stand. Although if you’re a dirty scummer, probably not.
‘It Follows’ delivers its threat through a style and approach more akin to a slasher movie than a curse movie. With its 80s style synth music, and shots of this unstoppable stalking menace pacing its way through public places and the homes we consider secure, it is reminiscent of ‘Halloween’ with the stalker often spotted approaching from the background by the viewer before the characters have seen it themselves, creating some tense moments. None of the characters become more than rough sketches, yet they are convincing as friends and the film has such a pace and sense of urgency their lack of development matters little. The only criticism I would level at the film would be the ending–after an effective build which steps up the tension it doesn’t really offer a climax. I think this is due to the lack of ‘system’ to the curse. ‘Final Destination’ had its victims trying to figure out how Death’s list operated, which they would run with for the movie only to find out it was flawed.
‘It Follows’ lacks the elaborate set pieces of ‘Final Destination’, being an understated and grounded movie, and within the films established set up the characters can only really distance themselves through a chain of willing sexual partners. I think even a system which would be revealed as flawed in a twist would have been more satisfying. A fix would have been to have the characters tracing the chain of partners back to some conjuring moment, or event they break or make amends for. That said, I would still give ‘It Follows’ 4 orgasms of death out of 5!