Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Jake Weary
Rated R for Disturbing Violent and Sexual Content including Graphic Nudity and for Language
We go to the movies to escape reality. Whether it's for a good laugh ("Ted"), a good cry ("The Notebook"), or even a scare ("The Innkeepers"), we watch movies to have an experience we wouldn't otherwise get in our ordinary lives. That's why the best movies reflect reality rather than imitate it. For example, no one in real life talks like they do in a Quentin Tarantino movie (wouldn't it be cool if they did?), but it's certainly fun to watch those movies because we get to hear people speak so eloquently and mix violence with comedy. Really, movies are theater without the constraints of the stage.
Which is why it isn't a good idea to imitate reality. Having people speak and talk like they do in real life is a recipe for boredom simply because we see and hear it every day. We want to see, hear and feel the emotion in the characters and be told a story. Someone didn't tell writer/director David Robert Mitchell. In an attempt to avoid melodrama and going over-the-top, he has leeched any sense of personality from his actors.
Jay (Monroe) is excited. She is going on a date with a hunky guy named Hugh (Weary), but that ends badly when he attacks her with chloroform after sleeping with her. His motives are less sinister and more a desire to warn her (surely he could have done this in a less sleazy way) of the very real danger she is in. Apparently, he was stalked by a...thing, which can change shape, and if it catches up to its target, it kills them. The only way to stop it is to pass it on through sex. Now Jay and her friends have to figure out how to stop this thing before it kills her.
I am known to criticize movies for being "indie" or "artsy" just for the sake of doing it, and "It Follows" is ever so guilty of it. Long, slow takes, performances that are low-key to the point of lifeless, and general pretension. I don't know if it ever went to Sundance, but I'm sure everyone there would have loved what Mitchell's film has to offer. Watching this movie made me imagine it being directed by a 20-something guy wearing a tiny fedora, horn-rimmed glasses, a flannel shirt and some very skinny jeans.
One of the reasons that the film sucks is because the characters are boring. Everyone is so lacking in energy that they're more likely to put you to sleep than get you to care enough about them to get scared. Not only that, they're self-absorbed to the extreme. They regard everything with so much ennui that it's impossible to believe that they are interested in anything except themselves. Since at least two of the cast members, Maika Monroe ("The Guest") and Keir Gilchrist ("It's Kind of a Funny Story"), have show talent in the past, I'm going to chalk it up to Mitchell's attempt to portray disaffected teenagers. But hell, if I wanted two hours of that, I'd hang out at my local high school.
It is clear that David Robert Mitchell knows his horror movies, and studied some of the classics in preparation for making this film (James Berardinelli cited "Halloween" as an influence, but a more notable one would be "A Nightmare on Elm Street"). It is also clear that none of John Carpenter's or Wes Craven's talents have rubbed off on him. The references are clear, but save for a jump moment or two and a somewhat intense climax, this is a scare-less chore.