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it follows


By Jason Ooi

It Follows is also probably the first movie labeled horror that I’ve ever seen in a theater (insert joke about the film taking my horror-movie-in-a-theater-virginity). The genre itself has always filled me with a skepticism. I remember arguing with a friend, and comparing it to eating spicy food- what’s the point of torturing one’s senses? How much fun could it possibly be?

Well, as it turns out from this experience, it’s a lot of fun! Even though the theater was small and the crowd was limited (less than a dozen), I found a lot of joy in listening and participating in the reactions that would surround me; cheesy jump scares would garner screams, then laughter; the slow build up of tension resulting in nothing would end with a collective sigh of relief.

Set in the anachronistic land of Detroit, Michigan, we follow our hero, 19-year old Jay after she has an innocent sexual encounter that leaves her encumbered with a sexually transmitted demon, in a game of tag that puts her life at stake.

The rules are simple:
1) The monster will follow, taking whatever form that would help it get closer to the one infected, walking ceaselessly until it wins.
2) You can only pass it on by sleeping with another person who must pass it on again before they die, or else it will go down the line, stalking the previous holder until it goes right back to the source.

Because this is a horror movie inspired by the ’80s, it’s up to Jay and her devoted friends, all of which are teenagers, to help her stay alive against this invisible threat.

In fact, this film borrows a lot from the ’80s, reminiscent of last year’s cult hit, The Guest. Like The Guest, it does this very well, creating a nostalgic remembrance of a youth spent in suburbia and a time gone by. It employs a retro soundtrack filled with a heavy synth that adds an inexplicable tension to every scene, accentuating the overarching paranoia that fills the minds of both Jay and the audience. It’s the kind of movie that feels straight out of a nightmare- it’s like the creeping sense in the back of your mind that you dismiss as unreasonable whenever you feel like you’re being watched or followed. It Follows is the kind of movie that’ll have you checking behind your shoulder an unreasonable amount of times after you finish it.

In retrospect, It Follows wasn’t even that horrifying. The monster is slow and sluggish, and can literally only follow, with its lumbering gait and its zombie-like demeanor. Still, there’s something about It Follows that makes it such a suspenseful, atmospheric film that works so well.

The unique concept is aided by equally unique cinematography and direction that formulates a substantial sense of claustrophobia, as well as dictating a fear the unknown. The shots, of fall and suburban sprawl, are surprisingly beautiful and natural, filling the film with as much realism that can be afforded in a film about an invisible monster that preys on sexually confused children.

Now this film is definitely not, by any means, perfect. It’s filled with one dimensional characters that never get developed, tons of logic and plot holes pertaining to “it”‘s characteristics, and an overarching campiness that ruins some of the film’s horror aspects.

But still, It Follows is a visually appealing, absolutely thrilling, eerie and ominous film that really transcends a single genre. It’s another addition to the growing list of tributes to the past, one that is just as enjoyable, if not more.