Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Scariest Sex Ed Class You Never Took

The camera, much like a horny teenager, leers at the subjects in It Follows, the fantastic, new horror film from David Robert Mitchell. Nothing jumps out at the victims while chord of music blares in the audiences' ears. It Follows is much more concerned with unsettling you, and it's very effective.

The film opens with a girl fleeing her house. Her face is frozen with horror as her heels click on the sidewalk of her suburban neighborhood. We can't see what she is running from, and the prologue ends ghastly before it moves on to another teenage girl. Jay (Maika Monroe) longs to go on dates with boys, and we see her slowly getting ready for a date with Huge, a neighborhood hottie. After a few dates, they end up in the backseat of Hugh's car, but the evening doesn't end as blissfully as Jay imagined. Hugh tells her that someone gave "it" to him, and now he's passed it along to her. It will never stop hunting her, and all she needs to do is pass it along to another person. It'll be easier for her, he says, since she's a girl. 

Jay confides in her friends, and they believe her instantly. She insists that she can see people slowly walking towards her intent on hurting her, but they can never see them. The only thing Jay can do is run and run unless she decides to pass it along to someone else...

Every frame in It Follows is deliberate. This isn't sloppy filmmaking--it's controlled and well thought out. Mitchell is vague on the time period. There are fat bottomed station wagons and virtually no technology anywhere in the film. If the entire devoted, young cast were clutching iPhones or tablets, It Follows would lose its urban legend/campfire quality (even though there are a few noted spurts of technology sprinkled throughout). The bitching score by Disasterpiece ratchets up the tension in the suspenseful scenes and then pulls it back with dreamy synthesizers during sequences of teenage longing. 

Remember those sex ed classes where teachers warned us that when you sleep with someone, you sleep with everyone they've slept with? That notion is enough to scare the bejeesus out of any 15 year old, and that's why It Follows is so great. It taps into the deep-rooted fears we have about our bodies and our health. Anything can go bump in the night, but it's more terrifying that your bodily actions can be the one thing that does you in. 


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