It Follows is a 2014 horror film that follows a Jay Height (Maika Monroe) as she’s stalked by a supernatural force after a sexual encounter (it’s a lot creepier than it sounds!). The creature takes human form, gradually approaching it’s victims before killing them, but nobody else can see them.
This unique concept is something the horror genre desperately needed after being flooded with paranormal jump scare fests which don’t truly stick with it’s audience after the initial jump scares.
It Follows takes an entirely different approach however, and treats the horror genre (and it’s audience) with more respect, by crafting something truly unnerving and unsettling.
David Robert Mitchell (Writer/Director) uses multiple techniques to create a really unsettling atmosphere. The time period and seasons of the film are purposefully left ambiguous, using a mixture of different indicators to leave the audience in a state of uncertainty, be that consciously or subconsciously. This is accompanied by an unsettling score, perfectly used to make the audience feel incredibly uneasy.
Mitchell builds on this by framing his shots to show the audience exactly what he wants them to see as he builds tension, often placing the creature in the background, gradually approaching, to build almost unbearable suspense.
Mitchell also uses this to toy with his audience, showing characters walking toward the camera or our protagonist as if it were the creature, but then they turn out not to be. This may not even be the focus of the scene or the shot, but it’s there as a constant reminder that Jay is being hunted. This creates a genuine sense of paranoia in the audience where you’re left on constant look out for the creature, adding to the tension.
The film isn’t perfect however, as there are some issues regarding the film’s mythology or rules which are often broken or bent whenever the plot needs it. This can feel a little cheap and lazy, however I don’t believe this truly breaks or takes away from the tense atmosphere created, and therefore the experience.
There’s also some minor plot holes and some poor writing choices, as well as some minor uses of pointless jump scares which feel unnecessary.
It isn’t a perfect horror film, but it is a truly unique horror film and one of the best for a long time. It’s a breath of fresh air in an otherwise saturated, incredibly repetitive genre. It doesn’t hit the heights of say Get Out (2016) but it’s a better craft than your standard paranormal jump scare fest.