It Follows

 

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An intriguing take on venereal disease falls foul of lacklustre characterisation. 

   
It Follows


 

‘It’ has many faces – and can appear out of nowhere at any time. In a typical American suburb, a beautiful college student, Jay (Maika Monroe), has sex with her new boyfriend, Hugh (Jake Weary), only to wake up tied to a wheelchair. Hugh tells her that he has passed on a malignant force, which will follow her until she has sex with someone else or dies at the hands of ‘it.’ And only she can see her pursuer creep up on her…

 

Judging by some of the more up-market reviews, one would have thought that It Follows was the new Psycho. The film is certainly a notch or two above the recent plethora of possession and haunted house thrillers, but it really shouldn’t keep you up at night. The problem – as with so much contemporary horror – is that the characters remain fodder for the shudder. These American teenagers inhabit the same world as the kids from daytime TV and seem set apart from the rest of humanity. They watch old black-and-white sci-fi on TV and talk about each other, but anything like real life – acne, eating disorders, political Armageddon – never crosses their horizon. Consequently, they remain mere ciphers waiting to be knocked off by the next horrific gimmick from the studio. Even the title is a little cumbersome.

 

Still, the writer-director David Robert Mitchell is strong on atmosphere and avoids the usual tropes of the slasher B-movie. Following the traditional prologue, he turns his attention to Jay, who seems to waft through her life in a dream. There is something decidedly off-key in this setting and Richard Vreeland's canny music works all the better for the silences inbetween. This is Nowheresville in Anywhere USA, and the teenagers seem to exist in a world largely devoid of parental interaction. This is more the terrain of David Lynch and Gus Van Sant than, say, Wes Craven or John Carpenter.

 

However, for something entirely smarter one need look no further than Don’t Breathe. It, too, is set in a lot of the less salubrious corners of Detroit, features the actor Daniel Zovatto and boasts a better title. In addition, its characters, while strictly generic, are supple enough to change along with the story’s arc and are allowed to breathe. If they dare.

 

JAMES CAMERON-WILSON

 

Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe.

 

Dir David Robert Mitchell, Pro Rebecca Green, Laura D. Smith, David Robert Mitchell, David Kaplan and Erik Rommesmo, Screenplay David Robert Mitchell, Ph Mike Gioulakis, Pro Des Michael Perry, Ed Julio C. Perez IV, Music Richard Vreeland (aka Disasterpeace), Costumes Kimberly Leitz-McCauley.

 

Northern Lights Films/Animal Kingdom/Two Flints-Icon.

100 mins. USA. 2014. Rel: 27 February 2015. Cert. 15.