Movie Review: It Follows

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Well, March is finally almost over.  It was a pretty good month for everything *except* movies.  I ended up only seeing two films within this month, and while both happened to be pretty good (this and Chappie), it just felt like everything else was unbearably undesirable.  I feel like I should add some additions to my last post for Sean Penn’s Liam Neeson ripoff, and that generic looking Dreamworks movie that I have never seen a commercial for.

Before I get into It Follows, I just want to note that they played literally twelve trailers before this movie, and approximately ten of them were about children who can see ghosts.  Kids talking creepily into empty closets is *IN* right now, you guys.  As are ghosts grabbing people on beds out of nowhere.  So make sure to write that bed ghost scene into all of your screenplays from now on.

On an additional note about the trailers, I am now officially over-hyped for Mad Max: Fury Road, and there is no way it can possibly live up to my expectations.  It looks too good.

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But anyway, It Follows is an indie horror movie that’s catching a lot of buzz and starting to go wide in theaters, and it’s pretty awesome.  It’s about a girl in Michigan who has a ghost haunting her because she had sex with a guy who also caught the sex ghost, and she can pass the ghost onto someone else by having sex, and so forth.  But if the ghost kills the person she passes it to, it goes back to haunting her again.  That’s a premise that I found out I didn’t like describing to the several people who asked me if I saw any good movies this weekend, by the way…  “It’s a new horror movie…” I eventually settled on saying to the last few people.

The no-name actors in this were pretty decent, but the main star of this movie is the A++ cinematography.  Oh man, this movie is shot so fantastically.  I ate it up from the very first scene.  And then the next scene.  And the scene after that.  AND SO FORTH.  It’s so good.  Most of the really memorable scenes (which are many) are composed in wide shots, with the ultra slow-moving nightmare person creeping in from behind, walking closer and closer toward the camera.  But the restraint used by the director is what makes it ultra suspenseful.  Sometimes, we’ll be looking at a wide shot for 30 seconds and nothing will happen, and other times, something will be creeping slowly closer to the protagonists.  Sometimes the ghoul won’t even come close to the characters, and other times it destroys them.  It was a complete sense of uncomfortable randomness as to what scene would matter and what scene wouldn’t that kept me on my toes.  It’s a pretty frightening sense of manufactured paranoia.

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I looked around every inch of each shot like it was a Where’s Waldo book for something.  And occasionally a slow walking demon person actually shows up in the corner of your eye.  And it’s pretty creepy in a lingering, “there’s nothing you can do about it as an audience member” kind of way.  Like that scene with Killer Bob in Twin Peaks, or the bathroom scene in The Shining.  Hey, that’s actually kind of a good description of the horror scenes in It Follows; it’s a 100 minute bathroom scene from The Shining.

However, this isn’t for everyone.  It’s definitely not for the casual movie fan.  But it’s also not even for every horror fan.  It’s kind of artsy and slow and dreamlike, and doesn’t have any cheap jump scares or quick editing.  Some people may not enjoy a zombie-like ghost walking one mile an hour closer to the camera set to loud synthesizer music.  I don’t think people who really like Paranormal Activity movies or torture porn will like It Follows, much in the same way that people who really like Fast & Furious movies probably don’t like Drive.  It’s kind of a niche horror movie that’s equally weird, dumb, and really well made; that focuses almost all of its effort on creating a bizarre creepy mood, as opposed to just yelling “BOO!” in your face and lunging at the camera.

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Now, could I see some stupid kid saying “That wasn’t scary at all.  That sucked.  It was so slow and boring.”?  Well, of course.  That happens with basically every crazy, atmospheric horror movie I end up really liking.  My response: “Get off of my movie theater, you young punks!” [throws Dario Argento box set at them as they jump back on their dirt bikes]

I think this movie is a really good step in the right direction of where I’d like the horror genre to start going down (once again?).  Put cameras on tripods.  You can even use a dolly for pans.  Do long shots.  Use slow motion.  Throw in crazy music.  Don’t feel obliged to have jump scares just because.  Have fun with it.  And try to make a real film, if possible.  Found footage needs to die.  And It Follows is one of the best arguments for that.  It was a horror film centered on a fully constructed vision, with real camera shots, and it’s almost sad that I appreciated those basic filmmaking fundamentals in a horror movie as much as I did here.  I would love it if horror filmmakers started wanting to make things they’re legitimately proud of, instead of just taping a GoPro to their actors’ heads and pushing them down a dark hallway.  Or shooting an entire movie on laptop webcams.  Those movies are cheap, and not just financially cheap.  They’re lazy.  We don’t need them anymore.  Blair Witch was 16 years ago, guys.  People heavily criticized the found footage genre way back then, too.  Just let it die.

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Haha, just kidding, those movies make more profit than most Coen Brothers movies.  They aren’t going anywhere.

But whatever, if the growing popularity of this film gets us one step closer to an adaptation of Charles Burns’ Black Hole, I will forever thank the guy who directed It Follows, whose name I don’t feel like actually looking up right now.  Mitt Follows, I’ll assume his name is.  You know what?  Thank you anyway, Mitt.  I really liked your movie.

9 out of 10

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