It Follows (2014)

It doesn’t think. It doesn’t feel. It doesn’t give up.

Writer: David Robert Mitchell
Director: David Robert Mitchell

It Follows is a modern version of the “transferred curse” theme that goes back (at least) to Night/Curse Of The Demon (1957).

Here the recipient of the curse is followed by something relentless – reminding me a little of the John Wyndham story ‘Close Behind Him’. In this case the nature of the pursuer is never specified or explained, we just know that It can appear in any human form It chooses and is only visible to those affected by the curse. It just walks towards its victim. Slowly, relentlessly, unstoppably. However far you run It will get to you eventually. It’s a bit like having a zombie on your tail except, as one of the characters says, “It’s slow but it’s not stupid”. If It catches up with you, you die. Painfully.

Oh, I haven’t mentioned how the curse is passed on. This being a 21st century movie with a cast of teenage characters the curse is passed on by having sex. It’s sort of the ultimate STD, except that when you pass it on you yourself are cured… for a while. Because whenever It kills someone It turns Its attention back up the chain.

If that sounds like an excuse for a teenage sex ‘n’ slasher exploitation movie then don’t worry, it’s not. This is actually a very well done and atmospheric piece that shows you don’t need blood, gore and special effects to be scary. I’m glad to see a good horror film that relies on psychological tension. With It able to assume any form, there’s lots of scope for paranoia and in a number of scenes there is someone in the background walking slowly towards the characters. Sometimes it’s It, sometimes it’s not, sometimes we never know.

There are a couple of problems. Personally I could have done with a little less of the teenage agonising about the nature of sex and the ‘let me save you by screwing you’ dialogue. The pacing is also a little poor at times. This is particularly true of the ending.

The ending was unexpected, but not in a good way. I don’t mind the fact that things are never really explained, nor do I mind that we’re left without actually knowing what will happen. What got me was the suddenness of the ending. The film just stopped. Maybe the whole thing was meant to be a metaphor for death, I don’t know. But the ending jarred, I would have liked a bit more.

So it’s not perfect, but overall It Follows is a welcome example of real fear rather than over-reliance on shaky camerawork and blood.