Some of the simplest ideas make for the best movies, especially when it comes to horror. It Follows is one of those simple premises that when executed well is absolutely terrifying. Luckily, it is executed well here, unfortunately, it’s the bits hanging the horror together than let the movie down.
The premise is simple. After sleeping with a new boyfriend, Bailey Spry’s Annie is told that she has had a curse passed to her – a monster is now following her. It can take the form of anyone it wants, including those she loves, and it will not stop following until it has caught her. It is then up to Annie to decide whether she will spend her life running or pass it on to someone else.
The skill in the movie is the simplicity of it. The monster literally walks towards Annie at a slow, walking pace, taking the form of unknown old lady, huge scary tall guy or even one of her best friends. Only she can see it and it is very easy to escape from – except that it will always, eventually, catch-up with you! The way that the monster is presented is always shocking and effective. The old lady walking in the school, not reacting to anything or anyone around her was creepy but add a small, hissing boy and you have the recipe for effective terror. You’re never in immediate danger, like being chased by Michael Myers or Ghostface, but the relentless, unstoppable force of the creature will make anyone’s skin crawl.
It also leads to some amazing set-pieces. Each reveal of the monsters new form is either scary, creepy or downright disturbing, from plain nudity to the grotesque. The moments involving the creature mean we get some great chases and escapes, from the small-scale in the school to the biggest and most thrilling which culminates in an abandoned swimming pool. The way that the creature is presented and realised on-screen is always done in a spine-chilling way and offers the perfect amount of threat and terror.
It is accompanied by some of the best uses of music in a movie I have seen in a long time. The music booms and builds until we get the monster on-screen, effectively unnerving when it needs to or adding threat to a creature that “walks” its way towards the victim.This is introduced from the very beginning, with the first very real look at what happen when you’re caught and then accompanies each of the amazing set-pieces involving the monster.
Unfortunately, it’s the moments in between these great, scare-filled scenes that let the movie down slightly. At the beginning it raises some interesting questions about what you would do and how you could effectively live your life knowing this “thing” is always out to get you, relentlessly hunting. Some interesting avenues are explored and the film demonstrates how much this would destroy your life.
Once they have been explored though, and the monster fully introduced, you feel like you’re waiting for the next action filled moment. Watching Annie and her friends mope, in terror, contemplating their next move, begins to drag the film, slowing the pace and sucking some of the atmosphere out of the movie that is has so effectively built throughout.
It also fails to end effectively. It has a nice ambiguous ending but after the scene in the swimming pool, you feel like there should be something bigger, better and somewhat more concrete. Here we get a muddled ending, with the audience left to draw their own conclusions.
Overall, It Follows demonstrates that the most simple of ideas can deliver a brilliant, scary and thrilling horror movie. Something as simple as a creature relentlessly following brings with it some scary moments and thrilling “chases”that will keep you hooked. Unfortunately, the characters lives unravelling in-between aren’t quite as interesting as when the monster is on the screen.
Rating – 3.5
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)