I don’t even remember how It Follows ended up on my radar, but I heard it was something I needed to see, found out it was playing at my favourite theatre, and off I went without even bothering (and in fact avoiding) reading anything about it or watching the trailer. The perfectly spooky art house environment I was in made the experience of It Follows more than I could have hoped for.
For anyone who hasn’t yet heard of or seen this genius piece of cinema, I won’t give too much away since, speaking from personal experience, it’s much better to go in blind (and come out traumatized). But here’s a brief rundown: Jay (Maika Monroe) is a typical 19 year old girl, in an undetermined (retro yet almost present or even futuristic) time, who is discovering and exploring her womanhood and sexuality. She’s pretty, sweet and confident, but after a steamy evening with her boyfriend, everything changes. Someone, or something, is after Jay, following her since that night. It could be anyone at any time, and it is coming right for her. The mystery and appeal of It Follows is that it doesn’t explain itself, and has a very “This is how it is, so deal with it” attitude, and because of that it pulls you right in. You won’t question a thing except whether or not you’re going to make it through all 100 minutes without peeing your pants.
That old saying – the only thing to fear is fear itself? That crossed my mind while watching It Follows. I didn’t even know what I was scared of – Who is following Jay? Is anyone following Jay? What is it? – but I was scared. Even the sounds in this movie were terrifying. Not the noises themselves, but the volumes, crescendos, even lack of sound at times, were disconcerting in a way I can’t describe. The way this film was shot as well was often more disturbing than what was actually on screen – long slow shots, spinning shots, split second shots – it all took a big time toll on my comfort level and by the time I left the theatre, I was a nervous wreck. It was a stressful, scary film to watch. That was what I enjoyed most: the experience. It was a film made to scare you more than to tell a beginning/middle/end story.
I’m known for finding hidden meanings and messages in almost everything (drives my boyfriend crazy), but this one I want to let slide. I want to take it for what it was to me that night, which was one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen, because of how I felt watching it more so than for the story it may or may not have told. It was brilliant, exactly the essence of what a true horror film should be. There wasn’t a lot of gore and there wasn’t even really a villain per se, but it had everything it takes to chill me right to the bone.
If you get the chance to see It Follows in a theatre, do it. And make sure you have a hand to hold the entire time. I recommend going in knowing as little as possible, but if you need to see the trailer before you commit, here it is.