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:: It Follows

Subtext in horror films over the years hasn’t exactly been subtle. Any horror film buff will tell that during the 1980s and 1990s there were a flood of horror films that wanted to ‘warn’ it’s audience using a video nasty to gets it’s point across. Whether the film was telling a babysitter to keep her eyes on the kids she was looking after rather than make out with her boyfriend or highlighting the fact that the kids doing drugs at the party were most likely to be the next slasher victim, the subtext in horror often worked if it were done well. Obviously paying attention to these films was director/screenwriter David Robert Mitchell (who directed 2010’s The Myth Of The American Sleepover), because his latest film, It Follows, tells a cautionary tale of promiscuous sex for all to see.

Perhaps it is because we have been starved of any decent horror flicks in general release cinema over the past couple of years but It Follows is a complete breath of fresh air in the horror genre. For once we aren’t lining up to see a film that isn’t a sequel, a remake or linked to The Conjuring in any way… and the good news is that it works.

There is something eerily special about It Follows despite its very simple storyline and its relatively low budget (around the two million dollar mark). For once we aren’t watching glamour teens getting sliced and diced, instead Mitchell’s teenagers feel like they are ripped out of a Larry Clarke film like Bully or Ken Park, they are ‘loser’ teens with not much money and a lot of time of their hands… and you know what that only goes to make this film feel even more natural. With Mitchell’s smart directional style that has the audience gasping every time an extra walks behind Jay and the cinematography style of Mark Gioulakis the film turns the suburbs into something dark and eerie in much the same way as films such as Acolytes or Dean O’Flaherty’s Beautiful. Once again that ups the stakes of the horror as the audience immediately relates to both the characters and the setting.

The fact that the script actually does call upon some characterization and acting by its cast also gives some of the young members a real chance to show Hollywood exactly what they are made of. Daniel Zovatti puts out an air of a dirty James Dean as he portrays hero ‘bad-boy’ Greg Hannigan while Maika Monroe puts in a thoughtful, tough and sometimes sultry portrayal of Jay. Surely on the back of this film she is going to be hot property in Hollywood. Almost stealing her thunder though is Keir Gilchrist whose puppy dog eyes often has the audience on his side, while his great mix of comedy and dramatic acting easily makes him a fan favourite.

It Follows is certainly a film for the true horror fanatic. Anyway expecting to tune in and get a few cheap thrills as someone gets hacked to death is in for a real surprise. While the film itself may kind of hark back to teenage horrors like Disturbing Behaviour or The Faculty David Robert Mitchell’s naturalistic style of filmmaking has ended up creating a smart horror with a very natural film to it. He is certainly a director to watch and let’s hope Hollywood doesn’t sully this film by making a ridiculous sequel… although one is rumored to already be in the works.