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article imageReview: ‘It Follows’ is horror at its best Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 30, 2015 in Entertainment
‘It Follows’ is a breakthrough horror movie that revives less ostentatious aspects of the genre to deliver the best film in the category this year.
Teenagers are bombarded with contradictory ideas when it comes to sex. On the one hand, they are emerging in a hypersexualized environment that asserts it’s fun, it sells and it’s everywhere so it’s not a big deal. Conversely, messages about abstinence, crime and social shaming support the opposite view that sex is private and has severe consequences, particularly for women. The brilliance of indie film, It Follows, is it personifies these pressures to create a terrifying horror movie.
Jay (Maika Monroe) hasn’t been dating Hugh (Jake Weary) very long, but she really likes him. One night a romantic date on the beach unsurprisingly leads to sex in his car, but Jay is unprepared for what comes next. She suddenly finds herself restrained in an abandoned building while a frenzied Hugh paces around her. He apologizes for “passing it to her,” but explains if she has sex with someone else and passes it to them they’ll both be safe — as long as that person doesn’t succumb to the apparition either. Jay is understandably confused, but soon realizes she’s being stalked by the murderous evil Hugh warned her about. Desperate, Jay recruits her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe), their best friends Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and Paul (Keir Gilchrist), and similarly aged neighbour, Greg (Daniel Zovatto), to try to keep her a few steps ahead of the spectre.
The overall concept of the film is similar to The Ring, in that the curse is passed to Jay and in order to rid herself of it she must condemn someone else to the same fate. The key differences are that instead of a videotape the deadly affliction is linked to sex and there is no deadline since someone can spend their entire life running away from it. Other horror movies have used the idea of a “sexually transmitted disease” that infects its host and causes some sort of unusual behaviour; but this picture takes the threat outside of the sufferer’s body.
Putting a young, teenage girl at the centre of a story that simultaneously criticizes and demands sex is an excellent metaphor. Jay’s decision is not publicly attacked by any of her peers, but the adverse consequences of her actions are obvious and inescapable — a new reality in light of the permanence of the Internet and social media. To this end, it’s interesting to point out that neither of those applications play a role in the narrative and the only visible technology is Yara’s e-reader/flashlight/compact. Conversely, Jay is compelled to engage in more sex because that is ostensibly the only solution to her predicament.
What is more, audiences are exposed to this excellent commentary via an exceptional horror movie — a traditional element of the genre seemingly forgotten by many filmmakers. The menace’s ability to alter its appearance generates a heightened level of intensity for most of the film since “it” can be anyone at any time. Until a person speaks or their existence is confirmed by someone else, everyone is a threat. This attribute is highlighted near the end of the second act with tremendous results.
The cast of young actors are always in the moment and never over-react, which can be a death sentence to any promising genre film. Their characters are simply doing their best to keep Jay alive and that involves some absurd planning. While the audience wonders what they could possibly be thinking, the answer is even less complicated: they’re kids.
Writer/director David Robert Mitchell’s sophomore feature gets everything right and is a striking contribution to the genre that currently stands as the best and most authentic horror movie of 2015.
Director: David Robert Mitchell
Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist and Daniel Zovatto
More about It Follows, David Robert Mitchell, Maika Monroe, Jake Weary, Lili Sepe
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