A young woman tries to escape a mysterious curse.
David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows is being hailed as a new vision in horror cinema but what works best about it is the way it manages to feel both fresh and familiar.
The film clearly wants to pay homage to the genre classics which have come before. It’s there most obviously in the score by Rich Vreeland, which plays with synth elements that recall the late 70s and early 80s eras. But it’s also felt in the gorgeously restrained camerawork by Mike Gioulakis, with smooth moves and careful composition.
In some ways, It Follows feels like a lost film from John Carpenter’s heyday. There’s a strong and terrifying hook but also a sense of playfulness and pacing which most modern horror filmmakers have forgotten in their rush for gore and gracelessness.
Mitchell’s central premise is fantastic, conjuring up an unexplained evil which mixes elements of zombies, the Nightmare on Elm Street villain and some new ideas into a shambling terror which maximises tension when it appears.
The film is also a clever twist on the teen horror flick – sex remains a central part of the narrative but in a way which moves it away from simple hedonism. There are consequences to it here but also a subtle interrogation of the vacuousness of casual entanglements which makes for a much more interesting film.
It’s not a fast-paced film, drifting through several different tones and even sub genres through its 100 minute running time and there are moments where a little more editing could have helped. It’s a minor point for horror fans who will be on board all the way through but for those less interested in the genre, their interest may flag.
It Follows isn’t perfect but there’s plenty of power in the central premise as well as a wonderful evocation of the work of past horror masters. I can’t wait to see what Mitchell does next.