The new horror movie "It Follows" is being followed by a terrifying amount of hype. It's the kind of movie that's got a poster covered in "best horror flick in a decade" superlatives from critics.
The new horror movie “It Follows” is being followed by a terrifying amount of hype. It’s the kind of movie that’s got a poster covered in “best horror flick in a decade” superlatives from critics.
The weight of expectation was a specter that hovered over “It Follows” for me. Some will definitely agree it’s a welcome jolt. Some will probably think it’s really stupid. I’ll file it as a fantastic concept that falls a little short of brilliance.
Jay Height (Maika Monroe) is a 19-year-old woman in suburban Detroit. After a strange sexual encounter, her partner breaks some stranger news. Jay is now going to be followed by a dark presence that can take the form of anyone. The only way she can stop this? Pass it on to someone else.
First, you have to credit writer-director David Robert Mitchell for a simple and deceptively brilliant concept: a sexually transmitted ghost story? C’mon. That’s kind of brilliant.
Also brilliant is his manifestation of the unknown “it” that follows Jay. It’s simply random people walking toward her with slow determination, and the effect is fantastically unnerving. It can literally be anyone, so anyone you see walking with purpose becomes a frightening sight after seeing the film. That’s genius.
Mitchell also delivers a great slow-building setup — the opening scene is a particularly effective throwback to an ’80s John Carpenter or Wes Craven vibe. The tension gets unbearable. Your mind starts playing tricks on you.
So this is when I am going to break from the critical chorus of praise. “It Follows” wasn’t flawless for me — and perhaps a victim of its own hype in that regard.
For starters, I know the young people in horror movies aren’t known for great decision-making, but eventually their actions start to strain plausibility for the sake of setting up similar scares over and over. And a climatic final scene that should have been terrifying came off a little hokey for me.
This isn’t to say you should skip “It Follows.” On the contrary, I encourage you to see it in a theater for full impact — very glad distributor Radius/TWC decided to delay a digital release for a theatrical run. I’m going to give it a second viewing myself, but I’m not ready to join those calling it a new classic.
Photo courtesy of Radius/TWC