Friday, April 3, 2015

It Follows Review

I, like most of the indie horror loving community, actually went out to a real theater to watch a movie! It seems like you can't go five minutes these days without reading/hearing/seeing something about It Follows. With the amount of hype surrounding this one, I feared once I finally did get to see it, there was no way it would live up to it. Thankfully my fears were laid to rest, and it happened within the first few frames. If you've heard It Follows described as "Carpenter-esque", there's good reason for that. There's a shot about three minutes in that you'll swear John Carpenter was flown in just to shoot, but only after he finished writing the score for the film, which is amazing. Writer and director David Robert Mitchell is obviously a fan, and God bless him, he managed to not only recreate that early Carpenter magic, but he got it on the big screen. 

Again, this movie is all over the internet right now, and while I typically use this space to do a synopsis, I don't really think that's necessary here, as you've likely already read it a million times in other places. The short version is, Jamie (Maika Monroe) goes on a date, has sex with the guy, and for the rest of the movie is pursued by an unrelenting shapeshifting supernatural force that only she can see. Something is passed between partners that causes the demon/alien/thing to pursue the latest victim, and the only way to get it to stop is to pass it along to the next person. 

For everything It Follows does right, it's Mitchell's use of tension and the sound design that steal the show. The atmosphere in this movie is so thick you can feel it. There were times that the hair on the back of my neck was literally standing up. For a person like me who desperately wants a movie to not only entertain, but force some sort of reaction, this is huge. I felt uneasy at times, and I loved it. The score brilliantly enhanced the feeling of dread, and the theater I was in had the volume cranked to 11. Of course all the atmosphere and music in the world wouldn't help the movie if the script and performance of the cast wasn't equally as good. Once again, the movie delivers. When I sat and thought back on the movie, it hit me what a fantastic job it did of subtly developing these characters. These kids all grew up together in a suburb of Detroit, had been neighbors their whole lives, slept at each other's houses, were each other's first kiss, etc. We learn all of this about them through simple dialog that didn't feel forced, but felt like natural conversation between the characters. Maika Monroe was solid as the lead, and after this and The Guest, she's quickly becoming an actress to keep an eye on. Overall, most of the performances were solid, but Keir Gilchrist (Paul) was hands down my favorite, He played the "scrawny quiet kid who only desperately wanted to save Jamie because he'd been in love with her his entire life" perfectly. I genuinely felt bad for the kid, that's how good he was. 

 It Follows is not without it's flaws though, and in the interest of this review not being complete and total praise, I'll nitpick a little. The biggest complaint I had were some pacing issues. The run time is about an hour and forty minutes, and there's easily five minutes or so that could've been cut. The first half flies by, but there is some lag in the second half leading up to the final act. It certainly didn't ruin the movie, but it's there. The main problem I can see people having with It Follows though, is that it doesn't ever come out and explain exactly what "It" is, how it started, where it came from, etc. I didn't mind that, as I sort of liked that the only thing we ever know about it is that it doesn't stop, ever, but it's going to leave some people unsatisfied with the overall experience. 

Now for the obligatory "If you complain about the lack of horror in the theater" paragraph. If you are one of those guilty of said complaint, now is the time to put your wallet where your mouth is. It Follows is that very, very rare occasion where an independent genre movie has sparked some interest from the masses, and like the Little Engine That Could, has put itself over the hill and landed in wide release at mainstream theater chains. The only way we are going to see more of this is to go out and support it. With our money. Go see it, love it, then tell your friends to go see it so they can love it too. 

As an added bonus for this one, I'm also imbedding the soundtrack which you can listen to in it's entirety on YouTube below. I actually bought it weeks before even seeing the movie. It's that good.