In an era of blockbusters oversaturated with visual effects it’s become quite hard to be truly wowed by visuals anymore. Yet it has opened an opportunity for the mostly ridiculed genre of horror to focus on practical crafts work and show what really can be done onscreen without a computer. Not many horror films take this opportunity but it does result in some truly classic horror films such as The Conjuring or the works of Guillermo del Toro before he got into his recent CGI film phase. It Follows, the breakout indie hit of this past spring, certainly aspires to this. While there is evidence of a direction and vision that offers something old school and unique at the same time, the film is ultimately hobbled by a predictable plot.
It Follows is about a girl (Maika Monroe) who is forcibly captured by her boyfriend (Jake Weary) after having sex. Her boyfriend tells her that he passed on a deadly entity to her that will kill her as soon as it touches her.
The style of this film is unlike any horror film in recent memory. Director David Robert Mitchell and his DP Mike Gioulakis make sure that the camera moves as little as possible as it lingers on its subjects. This sets up some really gorgeous shots that stand in sharp contrast to the usual jump scare tactics of present day horror films. It is also clear Mitchell cares a lot about the dying breed of practical effects, which is always nice to see.
However, Mitchell’s work is not always great. For all of his strengths as a director he is not completely able to overcome his bland script, which struggles with the usual third act horror film problems and interesting characterization (none of the performances really standout and I can’t honestly tell if that’s because of the weak script, bland actors or both). His use of nudity is also a quite jarring as he has it appear in the most random of spots when there were many opportunities to use it in a manner that would at least partially help the story and thematic lessons of the film.
While It Follows has an interesting premise and a unique style it’s hard to truly fall in love with a film that is as thin as the depth of its characters. It’s just your typical young and naïve adults getting attacked by the big bad scary thing yet again.