In case you weren’t already aware of this fact, It Follows is one of the best horror films ever made. Though it may not be the heavy hitter some of the old classics are yet, it’s certainly among the best of the decade; contending with other greats like Get Out, Cabin in the Woods, and The Conjuring. If anyone tries to tell you this film is not as good as I say it is, they’re wrong. Hey, I didn’t promise an unbiased look at each of these films!
What is there not to love about this 2014 film from writer/director David Robert Mitchell? I dare you to think of something. Anything. What could you possibly dislike about it? I’m at a loss.
It can’t be its cinematography — this film is one gorgeous shot after another. The composition of each frame is so thoughtfully laid out. As I was planning what stills to include in this post I found myself already grabbing about twenty different ones without even a second thought. With so many incredible shots, the film could easily be a coffee table book that you just casually flip through in celebration of cinematographer Mark Gioulakis. Though I want to show you a bunch of them, I’ll settle for sharing the ones in this post and naming some of my other favorite moments.
Any time there’s a close up of Jay (Maika Monroe)’s hands, it’s brilliant. Whether it’s the above still or her placing blades of grass so carefully on her leg, the shots are gorgeous and deceptively simple There’s also her hands as she runs her fingertips through the water in the finale sequence of the film or her fingertips curled into her knees as she sits wrapped up in a blanket, with red nails a stark contrast to the white of her skin. If you have a Tumblr, check out this great set with each of these moments. There’s also the group shots by the seashore or Jay standing outside of the house where Hugh/Jeff (Jake Weary) has been living. I digress. Overall, the film is a masterclass of how to construct an image, demonstrating all those concepts your visual aesthetics professor was trying to teach you back in film school in a modern, tangible way.
What else could someone possibly conceive as a fault to this flawless film? Perhaps its story since the concept is so beautifully simple. It Follows is a claustrophobic film about one woman’s shocking discovery that having sex has left her marked for death by a shapeshifting being that slowly stalks her. The most terrifying part of this creature is that it can, and does, take the shape of anyone which makes every person in the frame a potential “it.” There’s not really too many jump scares in the story, but it doesn’t need that to keep you engaged. The mind games that the creature plays with Jay combined with the paranoia gives this film some truly incredible atmosphere that, even on my fourth watch, still makes my skin crawl. There’s also so many small parts of the story that are easily missed that I didn’t even really pick up until I stumbled upon this article from Thought Catalog. If you haven’t seen the film definitely don’t go read that, but if you have, give it a read. It’s an interesting look at another layer to the story that brings into context some pieces from the finale.
That article also brings up another really intriguing part of the film — its overall aesthetic. The film has a decidedly 80s vibe to it thanks in no small part to its score from Disasterpeace but not all of the elements seem to match that. Some house interiors are old with flowery wallpaper and black and white photos like Jay’s house.
Their clothing has a lot of modern elements but why are they always watching old black and white films on their clunky televisions? What time period is this that no one uses a cell phone but Yara (Olivia Yuccardi) has this tiny shell phone reader? It wasn’t until I read that article above that I was able to say “wow, that is really odd.” The time displacement adds some uncomfortable tension for your brain as you try to riddle out the film and you never quite know where or when you are. Like most parts of this film, it’s kind of brilliant when you think about it.
It Follows is, for me, a masterpiece with so many threads I’m sure I have yet to even notice are there to unravel. If you’ve never given the film a shot because you value the opinion of people like Quentin Tarantino (whose version of the film I’m sure I would have hated in comparison) then maybe rethink your position and give it a shot. You won’t regret it.