When J, a young college student, is passed the curse of a stalker from a date, she must find a way to kill the stalker whom only she can see.
“It Follows” is a low budget indie horror made in Detroit. As such, when it started making the rounds and people all over the country started talking about it, those of us in Michigan went out of our way to see one of our own do his thing up on the silver screen.
I’ve been to a lot of made in Michigan features and worked on several but “It Follows” surprised me by being both competently made but also compelling in its plot and subtext.
The film takes a while to get going. It meanders around our protagonist and her friends as they laze around the Detroit suburbs in the intentionless way that teenagers do and barely even bothers to act like a horror film at all. Except for some ominous tones from a pretty good synth soundtrack to clue us in, it would feel a little like a mumblecore film.
Once J goes on her date and sleeps with him, the plot of the film is of and running. Well, more like plodding. The film is slow but after J is drugged and he date reveals that there is a mysterious supernatural stalker/killer whose target is passed along through sexual intercourse there is at least some plot structure to hang the scares and themes upon. As she runs from and eventually faces the It with the help of her friends, J endures, succumbs, and eventually grows to accept the trauma that is now a part of her life.
The themes in the film are a little on the nose for me and well trod ground of horror movies which exult in the dangers of teenage sex but it does it in a very different way, making it the main text of the fim rather than the subtext. It isn’t the “loose girl” who gets killed by some unrelated beast. It is precisely because she, and the guy who gives it to her, have sex that she gets the curse. This means that the subtext of the film can actually be about something else, which in this case, is betrayal and abuse.
This film is a great example of doing a lot with a little. The industry rightly took notice of this film and gave David Robert Mitchell a chance to make a follow up film, “Under the Silver Lake” which we also reviewed and loved. This is a great start to what will hopefully be an exciting career full of new kinds of expression from him.
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