Some facts about Charles: he doesn't like slasher flicks, doesn't like 'jump' scares, and doesn't really care for gorefests. I feel horror is the easiest genre to jump into. It's the easiest medium to get a reaction from your audience. If you're new to filmmaking and want to make your audience feel something, fear is the easiest emotion to evoke. It Follows is not your typical horror film.
Lets forget about the horror genre for a minute, completely forget it exists and just look at It Follows as a film. How is it shot? Edited? Acted? Music? How about the plot? On all these points, It Follows is an immense success. It's constantly beautiful to look at. The performances from these mostly unknown actors is spellbinding. The soundtrack by DisasterPeace is both eery, and delightful. It hearkens back to a time when horror films were simpler, more innocent somehow. So off these strengths alone, this film is an amazing achievement.
Now lets add the fact that its a horror film, ok, now we're really on to something. It Follows left me haunted, I was thinking about it weeks after I saw it. I've seen the gorefests, I've seen Saw, the slashers, Jason, Freddy, Michael, none of them unnerved me the way It Follows did. You've got a monster that is basically unseen, one that you don't really understand, you have questions, you get no answers, and aren't the scariest things in life the things you don't understand? The things that could be real?
There's a very thick tension throughout the film, the kind that has you looking over your shoulder constantly. The tension lasts throughout until the very last shot but it never feels cheap. I never thought "ok get on with it" as suspenseful films can sometimes make you feel. There is this constant dread that there is something sinister just off camera in every scene.
There's a lot to discuss when talking about this one. Is the monster really a monster? Or is the underlying message something else entirely? What is the director trying to tell us? Who are all these people the 'monster' is portraying. Some hidden clues throughout tell the story more fully, but you have to be looking for them, and that is where It Follows is so refreshing. In a lot of ways, this one reminds me of Stanley Kubrick's take on The Shining. Where you have a surface narrative (hotel ghosts drive caretaker crazy sending him on a murderous rampage) and a "hidden narrative", a story underneath the story. Visual clues left throughout that demand to be analyzed and studied. It Follows seems to be filled with the same visual clues. A surface narrative, and a hidden one. It's so exciting to see films like this are still being made.