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It Follows

This year's super-original, must-see horror movie features a sexually transmitted spectre.
By Sarah Ward
April 22, 2015
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By Sarah Ward
April 22, 2015
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There's toying with horror film tropes, and then there's It Follows. Fans of the genre have undoubtedly seen all the scary movies where the characters get it on, only to be nastily dispensed with not too long after. Even those not so fond of big-screen frights have probably watched the flicks that call attention to and make fun of the cliche, such as Scream. Well, here, that convention isn't just a routine inclusion — it's the film.

When hormone-fuelled teens have done the deed, something evil comes calling. That, folks, would be the titular 'it', a presence that can take the guise of a parent, friend or stranger. It follows its victim with a focus and perseverance most movie killers could only dream of. Once it sets its sights on the latest sexually active person to catch its attention, it won't stop walking and stalking until it strikes them down — or until the unlucky soul in question passes it on by sleeping with someone else.

After getting intimate with her boyfriend, Hugh (Jake Weary), for the first time, that's the situation 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe) finds herself in. It takes some time to convince her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe), friends Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and Paul (Keir Gilchrist), and neighbour Greg (Daniel Zovatto) of such a strange predicament, but they're soon helping her try to outrun her sinister, unceasing, supernatural pursuer.

There might be more than a hint of picking off the promiscuous at play here, even if getting physical is a clear substitute for fears of growing up in general, but thankfully that outdated attitude doesn't dampen the film. Instead, It Follows flies by thanks to its genuine chills, using its style to unsettling effect. If ever there was a movie that stacked up familiar horror elements and made them its own in the canniest fashion possible, it's this one.

Think you've seen that fondness for symmetry before? And heard something similar to that electro score? Well, if you're familiar with the work of Stanley Kubrick and John Carpenter, that's not at all surprising. This isn't a case of blatant copying of parts of movies like The Shining and Halloween, but of affectionate nods to obvious influences. Writer/director David Robert Mitchell takes his cues from the master filmmakers he loves, his enthusiasm ensuring It Follows is never anything less than hauntingly atmospheric and spine-tinglingly creepy.

So, there's sex and death, a gimmick that might get you watching. Plus, there's an unshakeable air of unease, which will probably keep you glued to your seat. It's actually the performances that will get you really engrossed in the film, however, refreshingly showing teens acting their age. Monroe is a certain star in the making, and the rest of the cast are just as great at getting to the heart of what it must be like to be scared out of your wits while still awkward, vulnerable and uncertain. As It Follows follows them coping the best they can, it also follows in the footsteps of horror greats gone by, proving a striking and sincerely scary addition to the genre.

Read our feature on the history of sex in horror movies.

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