Around thirty minutes into It Follows a woman was escorted out by a friend in tears. By the end the weak were gone and the strong were weak. It Follows had made it’s point, and we all shuffled out in silence.
It Follows brings horror back to it’s 80’s heydey – aided by a malicious synth score – whilst stripping off the pulpy schtick of the decade to create a leaner, quicker beast. The creature which pursues our protagonist – The Guest‘s fantastic Maika Monroe – never really attains the iconic status of the Freddy/Jason/Myers trinity, however, as the horror we experience never takes such a novel form. The pursuer here is faceless, you might as well run in fear from your gran. And that’s the point. It Follows brings the fear to your neighbourhood in your neighbours, to the room down the hall, and all the way to the shops and back in every shuffling stranger.
But to say that the terror It Follows evokes is due solely to the recognisable face of the pursuer would be to do the film a great disservice. Like the film itself states, the beast’s familiar appearance is merely a method to bring these fears closer to the victim. Behind the commonplace shell of the creature are hidden, barely, Freudian fears stemming from our own sexuality, and our fear of the shunned certainty of death. But instead of Larkin’s blurred shape on the horizon, the certainty of death is here presented both clearly and nearly to the audience. Our protagonists fates rest upon whether they run from this, or can live in the knowledge of it, with the film’s final shot speaking volumes on this.
It Follows sets mercilessly in pursuit of cliché and expectation, and does things to audiences, did things to me, that I could never have anticipated from a genre becoming increasingly diluted by cheap jump scares and found-footage, ‘based on a true story’ gimmickry. Director David Mitchell has birthed a smarter breed of terror, and if horror’s lazier beasts honestly want to survive the night, then they better up the pace.