It Follows – A Genuinely Creepy Concept
At the time of watching It Follows I didn’t find the film to be particularly scary. It was only afterwards as I took the time to consider the concept behind the film that I genuinely managed to creep myself out. The premise is a simple one, after what seems like an innocent sexual encounter something starts to follow the main character. There aren’t many jump scares or any big build-ups. Unlike a lot of other horror films it’s incredibly subtle, but also why I think it’s so effective. There will be spoilers, so if you want to keep it a surprise then stop reading.
The thing that follows the character is a curse passed on through having sex. It can’t be seen unless you have the curse and can change its appearance, resembling people that you already know. Even though the curse can be passed on, if the next person succumbs to it, it’ll move back down again and so you’re never really safe. It might even take on the form of the last person that it killed, the one that you passed it onto. This creates that feeling of constant dread, because once you have it there’s no getting away from it. It could be safer to know that it’s following you and to remain vigilant, rather than to be caught off guard when it passes back down. The fact that it can look like a normal person also means that it can blend into crowds; The only way to tell is in the way that it moves towards you.
One other major characteristic of the demon is that it only ever walks; Therefore it’s possible to put some distance between you to buy some time. For some reason it’s the slow ones that creep me out more even though they’re arguably less dangerous. Take Alien for example (I’ve recently watched through the films and played Isolation, hence why its come to mind,) it’s incredibly quick and agile and if it sees you you’re probably dead even if you try to run. Yet Alien is an animal and so there are certain aspects to its movement and behaviour that I can relate to. There’s also the hope that it can be killed or you can escape the situation. In It Follows there’s a constant feeling of paranoia that can never be escaped. The demon doesn’t even show up that often, but the anxiety remains in every scene. I’m not even sure how you could sleep comfortably knowing that something is always walking towards you. The film also makes heavy use of shots that show people moving in the background scenery, but with no certainty that it’s the demon. It’s kind of symbolic of the ever approaching creep of death. We can run from it for so long, but it’ll always catch up with us eventually; That’s inevitable.
The film also has enough uncertainty to create the fear of the unknown. There are moments where the demon clearly demonstrates having some level of intelligence, but in that case why does it only ever walk? It doesn’t seem to be very passionate about killing, it just follows the rules. Where did it even come from and how did this thing start? It’s also unclear as to when the film is set and what season it is. Much of the décor and technology appears to be old-fashioned and yet one of the characters is seen using what appears to be some sort of e-reader. There are times when the characters are wrapped up warmly, and others when they’re swimming outdoors and wearing summer clothes. It all creates this unsettling feeling of being out of place.
Overall I don’t actually rate It Follows very highly as a film, although I can understand why it caused such a strong buzz amongst horror fans. I like stories that require you to pay close attention to pick up on all of the details and this makes for great repeated viewing, but a few of the scenes feel like they’ve been cut prematurely to create this. The ending is also very sudden and inconclusive. Not that I need to have a conclusive ending, but when I invest my time on a story I like to have a few more plot developments than It Follows offers during its run time. There’s a lot of build-up, but no pay-off, which leaves the overall experience feeling a little flat. There are a few too many rules guiding the behaviour of the demon too, and the odd inconsistency is confusing. Even so, I loved the concept behind it and I’d like to see more horror films attempting to take a similar direction.
It Follows is an experience that I think is summed up better by how it makes you feel rather than what happens. Films very rarely scare me and this is the first one to do so in a long time. The idea of being followed is an unpleasant one that we can all understand. Just thinking about it causes the hairs to stand up on the back of my neck and my pace to quicken.
- Lynn Cinnamon – It Follows Exists Out Of Time In A Paranoid Nightmare
- Thought Catalog – Here’s Why You Missed The Scariest Part Of It Follows
- Wired – What Makes The New Horror Film It Follows So Damn Good
- You Tube – Cinemassacre: It Follows (2015) Review
- You Tube – Channel Awesome: Doug Reviews It Follows
- You Tube – Ryan Hollinger: Explained And Creature Theory