The best scary ideas are simple. It Follows features an implacable, malign spirit that looks like a succession of relatively anonymous people — some obviously wounded or distressed, some simply spaced-out — and walks towards a designated victim at an even but relentless pace. Once cursed, the heroine can run or drive a great distance to gain respite but the implacable menace will eventually amble along. As a prologue featuring a previous victim demonstrates, the results of getting got by the Follower are shocking and terminal.
With a curse passed on like a sexually transmitted disease, there’s a serious undertone. The way the heroine — spirited, likable Maika Monroe — and her friends deal with her affliction is contrasted with the callous behaviour of the guy (Jake Weary) who woos her under an assumed name and dumps her after he’s shifted the bullseye from his forehead to hers. As with the Ring cycle, the set-up is a quandary which encourages the audience to think through the contrived trap set by the curse and ponder the practicalities (and ethics) of possible ways out, and which are then played out in a number of clever, surprising ways.
David Robert Mitchell’s first film was The Myth Of The American Sleepover, a sensitive teenage relationships drama, and he has a knack for writing and directing youngsters. The group of kids who hang around with heroine Jay have complicated relationships but don’t hate each other, which sets this apart from much current snarky horror. The widescreen compositions and thrumming music evokes John Carpenter’s early, scary movies but the use of nearabandoned neighbourhoods and urban districts gives it an unusual, subtly haunted post millennial feel.