It Follows Is the Twist to the Trope That I Was Looking For

Dept. of Savage Sexcapades


October is here, and with Halloween just around the corner, comes the prerequisite attention given to the horror genre. The long standing joke at Goggler HQ is that I do not like horror movies. But it is important to note, that I actually do like horror. It’s just that I have a very tight definition of what horror is. This year, I have taken it upon myself to expand my horror repertoire, and this is the first in a series of reviews that I am writing of scary movies that come highly recommended. This is Bahir’s Four Weeks of Horror.

It Follows throws you right into the middle of it. It opens with a scantily clad young woman bolting out the front of her house. In one continuous sequence we see her run into the middle of the street only to stop and look right back at the camera in absolute fear. She then runs to the other side of the street, and at full tilt, runs back to her house where she is greeted by her father asking her if she’s okay. She brushes him off and runs past him. She grabs her car keys. She then jumps in to her car and speeds off into the distance.

We then catch up with her, sitting on a darkened beach, lit only by the headlamps of the car, as she stares into the distance behind the camera. The girl is absolutely terrified. The girl has all but given up. She talks on the phone with her father, apologising for being less than a perfect daughter. The scene then cuts to morning with her mangled and bloodied body still on that very same beach.

I Will Follow You

Annie waiting in the middle of the street in It Follows.

That is how It Follows opens and it jolts you immediately into paying attention. There is no preamble featuring a bunch of sweet high school kids here. It throws you right into the horrors that await. You can tell that David Robert Mitchell, the writer and director of It Follows knows the genre. He keeps the evil entity away from the camera until he has to show it, without ever letting it devolve into an unnecessary tease.

Here, the story is what is important. The evil isn’t the point. It’s how his characters deal with getting into and out of the problem that makes this a story worth telling. The first encounter that opens the movie lasts almost four minutes. Mitchell then takes five minutes to introduce us to our heroine, Jay (Jaime), and her crew, before, at the 15 minute mark, the deed is done.

Let’s Talk About Sex

It Follows' evil entity hunts you down, slowly.

The deed here being sex. Because that is the first rule that Mitchell sets up in It Follows. That there is an evil, murdering entity, that only you can see, and can only be transferred during sex. Once said evil, murdering entity catches up to and kills a victim, it then returns to its previous target.

In fact, 22 minutes into this 200 minute movie, Mitchell has already given you, and Jay, all the rules you need to survive. The gang of course get themselves into trouble by ignoring the rules that they have been told. Yes, there are characters doing the kind of stupid things that characters do in horror movies, but none of it ever feels like just an excuse for murder and mayhem.

Mitchell also does an incredibly interesting thing by making the evil entity a low-panic but high-stakes situation. And by that I mean the evil entity stalks towards its victim. It doesn’t screech in the night. It doesn’t swoop in from the dark. It doesn’t race towards you in the car park. This evil entity ambles. It plods along towards its intended target. And once you are in on it, the thought of the slow plodding murderous entity becomes like a ticking clock, causing the audience to constantly look over shoulders to see if it’s in the background, slowly walking towards Jay. Make no mistake, this thing will kill you horribly, but you’ve got time because there it is, in the form of your dead grandmother, just walking slowly towards you.

I really enjoyed It Follows. It has an interesting premise, gruesome (and one VERY disturbing) deaths, excellent performances, and a confident writer/director behind the camera. Is It Follows an allegory for premarital sex or STD? Sure, why not. But I don’t think it has to be. You don’t need to watch this movie through that lens to make it any more enjoyable as a piece of storytelling.

As part of his his horror re-education, click here to read Bahir’s review of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

Werewolf by Night
Previous Story

The Goggler Podcast #277: Werewolf by Night

The King's Jester
Next Story

The Goggler Podcast #278: Hasan Minhaj: The King's Jester

Latest from Movie Reviews