“It Follows” dredges up horror tropes of the 1980s to bring us a fresh departure from the jump scare-laden horror films of today.
The film follows Jay, a fairly normal girl who is dating a boy named Hugh. Little does she know that Hugh has something that he passed on to her. Now it follows her.
“It Follows” holds to the ambiguity of its monster throughout most of the movie and this works to great effect. It preys on the fear of the unknown. The only thing you and the film’s characters know is that it walks toward you, it can take the shape of anyone, you die once it touches you, and then it’s on to kill the person who had it before you.
The beginning of “It Follows” is fairly quiet in comparison to the majority of its run time. It’s reminiscent to the beginning of “Blue Velvet,” due to its quirky sense of slightly skewed normality. It’s tonally off-putting in the best way possible.
Once it has passed that the film is a slow boiling pot of anxiety with a sprinkle of terror.
But only a sprinkle, unfortunately. “It Follows” isn’t the most frightening film. This is partly due to the film being so dependent on its sound design rather than visual cues.
While there is certainly some very unnerving imagery in the forms the thing that is following Jay takes, it’s never really enough to give you long lasting chills.
But this lack of visual fright is made up for in audio-induced, pulse-pounding tension. Droning synth and pulsating bass reminiscent of John Carpenter’s “Halloween,” and other horror films of the late 1970s and early 1980s, serve to break the quiet moments in the film. They signal and escalate the coming of danger.
The pounding footstep-esque base that plays whenever it is getting close is enough to leave you clenching your teeth and gripping your sweaty palms. However, it is arguable that the movie uses its sound design as a crutch, seeing as how the film would be a fraction of what it is without it.
The film also manages to make good use of its quiet moments as well. The thing that is after Jay doesn’t run – it slowly follows. This allows for the characters to actually have down time without breaking the films own logic. These quiet moments allow for both character development and a chance to build tension by letting them get careless without feeling as though it’s out of character with the rest of the film.
This would bring us to the film’s characters. While they’re all certainly character tropes of 1980s horror, they’re treated with more respect than they would be in other films. They don’t feel like they are being punished for some wrongdoing, rather they feel like their hardship is completely circumstantial.
But that also leads us to one of the film’s bigger faults: the supporting characters. While they’re not bad, they’re certainly forgettable. Nothing really noteworthy happens to most of them and their acting isn’t particularly good either. They’re kind of just along for the ride.
While “It Follows” doesn’t possess all the heart pounding horror of the films it tries to emulate, it’s certainly more memorable than its modern-day low budget horror movie peers.