Last week, on Friday the 13th It Follows finally made its way to theaters, after months of impressing at a host of film festivals.
The vintage-feeling indie thriller stars Maika Monroe as a 19-year-old terrorized by the unknown. After consummating her relationship with a seemingly nice guy (Jake Weary), she wakes up strapped to a chair in an abandoned building, as she’s told of a faceless monster that will now stalk her.
She’s too stunned to believe it at first, but her date reveals that this thing can be anyone – even someone she knows “just to hurt her” – and to always keep her eye on the exit, because while “it is slow, it’s not stupid.”
If Jay (Monroe) doesn’t heed his words, she could meet a particularly violent fate, as evident by the film’s opening scene.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, writer/director David Robert Mitchell revealed that the inspiration for the film came from a recurring dream he used to have when he was 9 or 10.
“I knew it was a monster [following me], but it looked like different people,” Mitchell said. “It walked very slowly, and it would just be coming closer and closer.”
“In one, I was playing on a jungle gym at recess with my friends, and I remember pointing over at this weird little boy in the distance. And no one knew what I was talking about, and I would run away from school. I’d get a block away, and I’d sit there, and he’d turn the corner.”
“Knowing that I could get away, that it wasn’t hard to run away, but it was always coming for me – it’s a very heavy anxiety,” he explained. “That’s what I built the film on, a cumulative dread.”
The film employs amazing horror movie music – reminiscent of classics like Halloween – which keep viewers filled with suspense and dread throughout.
It also reminds me of 2014’s The Guest, which also stars Monroe, and tells the story of the drama a family endures after a mysterious stranger (Dan Stevens) arrives at their house claiming to be the best friend of their son, a soldier who had died in action.
Indie thrillers of late such as The Guest and It Follows have been giving new life to a genre that has predominantly been dominated by remakes and sequels.
This past year’s The Babadook, by writer/director Jennifer Kent also impressed at festivals before gaining widespread attention for its unique storyline and unflinchingly honest portrayal of a house in disarray.
While the movie takes a different approach on typical horror movie thrills, gradually building its suspense, it also fails to ever let go.
It stays with you, like an earwig, warranting sporadic conversations with friends and the inspection of shadows at night… to ensure that they are just that, shadows.
In the same vein It Follows does exactly as its title suggests, follows you after the theater, inspiring you to check behind you, although for what, of course, you’re not exactly sure.
As a horror movie enthusiast, films like The Guest, The Babadook, and most recently, the suspense-filled It Follows make me excited about what’s to come in the genre.
Have you scene It Follows? What’d you think?