Movie Review: It Follows
by Jason Koenigsberg
Have you ever seen a movie that you really liked until the last moment? I am not talking about maybe a weak third act (Elf was guilty of this) or a cop out of an ending (The Jackal, a beautiful woman shows up just in time to save our hero and kill the bad guy) or maybe one that you just inherently disagree with (Fight Club, good movie until the big reveal). I am talking about a movie you enjoyed during the majority of its run time and then at the last instant you are left with an unsatisfactory moment that leaves you with your arms wide opening, asking, “what the heck was that for?”
That was how I felt walking out of the genuinely creepy It Follows, a horror film with lots of atmosphere and thrills but writer/director David Robert Mitchell just did not know how to end it. It also worked as a smart metaphor for safe sex and being careful who you fall in love with during your late teens/early twenties. Those are key elements that if this film were fleshed out more it could have explored properly. Instead it sort of abandoned those themes as well as any character arcs or suitable ending.
Which is a real shame because It Follows although adding nothing new to the horror genre does create an outstandingly chilly atmosphere. It should be commended for its setting in blue collar Detroit suburbs, so often horror films take place in more upper class neighborhoods like Halloween or Scream, it was refreshing to see the horror move to a lower class setting and the costumes as well as the houses really enhanced that making It Follows stand out from many other supernatural thrillers involving teens/young adults.
The plot involves a young woman (Maika Monroe, in a first-rate breakthrough performance) who sleeps with a man she is dating but does not know very well. In doing so, he passes a curse onto her where a supernatural being will follow her and try to kill her. We do not know much more than that but the ensuing chain of events is great “build-up” creating an “atmosphere” of dread throughout the rest of the run time.
It Follows should be commended for having top-notch cinematography that made simple scenes very chilling. The best aspect of this movie was its music. The score by Disasterpeace is really outstanding at creating an uneasy mood throughout. I have no idea who or what Disasterpeace is but this is one of the best horror movie scores of recent years, making it all that much more of a shame I was ultimately disappointed in the final product.
I mentioned Maika Monroe and she really does deliver a great performance not just as woman in fear but as a flawed character faced with moral dilemmas involving sex and death which could have disastrous outcomes. Along with that the rest of the young cast is great as well, the acting really makes It Follows stand out and work until the end.
The key words being “build-up” and “atmosphere” since that is all It Follows has going for it. This does not have a weak third act or a cop out of an ending, it does not even have a third act or any semblance of a real ending. Mr. Mitchell does a great job creating a sense of dread for the audience but he did not know how to end it. It Follows is all build-up and zero climax. Seldom have I walked out of a movie that had so much that I enjoyed yet felt unsatisfied by the final result. In fact there was no final result. No clear third act, no real character arcs and no conclusion of any kind. It just ends similar to the final episode of The Sopranos leaving me with my arms wide open wishing for more but angry that I invested my time and emotions into something so unsatisfying.
It Follows is like a delicious dinner, the waiter brought it over, it smelled great, I had two or three scrumptious bites, and then he whisked it away and brought me the bill. I was left wanting more, but not in a good way because I was not full and satisfied with what I paid for.
Below is a trailer for House of the Devil (2009) a recent atmospheric horror film with an interesting throwback music score. I would recommend this over It Follows for its distinctive mood and because at least this film has a third act and something that could qualify as a sufficient ending.