David Robert Mitchell
Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist
Unlike several overrated recent frighteners (Insidious, The Conjuring, Annabelle), It Follows is a vividly rendered teenage thriller which will send shivers down the spine of even the most jaded viewer. Working in tandem with cinematographer Michael Gioulakis and editor Julio Perez, the forty-something filmmaker never falters in delivering unnerving chills.
Set in and around the director’s home town of Michigan, the atmospheric tale kicks off with a prologue in which a panicstricken young woman flees from home only to be killed by the invisible entity that has been stalking her. So far, so creepy.
The dread factor ratchets up as the rest of the story unfolds. After a casual dalliance, another suburban teenager (Monroe) finds herself the target of a shapeshifting spectre. The perils of promiscuity are explored as the life of the infected blonde spirals out of control. The ‘it’ of the title — a sort of sexually transmitted demon — manifests itself in various forms ranging from a naked man atop a roof to an old woman meandering around the corridors of a hospital.
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Relentlessly pursued at a languid pace by the mysterious monster, our heroine’s only chance of survival is if she passes on the eponymous curse to a new partner. Making bravura use of screen space and depth of field, Mitchell forgoes rote "boo!" tactics, opting instead to enhance the pervading feeling of paranoia and entrapment. The spectator is constantly urged to examine the edges of the frame for signs of menace.
Among the standout set pieces are a 360-degree pan across the hallway of a school and the elaborate encounter in an unused swimming pool where the protagonist and a group of her sympathetic friends strive to destroy the apparition.
The performances by the fresh-faced newcomers are spot on. In addition, the discordant electronic soundscape designed by musician Disasterpeace (real name: Rich Vreeland) packs a wallop.