IT FOLLOWS heralds a new sheriff in scare-town, writer-director David Robert Mitchell, contributing a superlatively crafted shocker to an impressive year for the horror-film genre, with top-notch entries like A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night and The Babadook pumping some fiendishly fresh blood into fright-film corridors worn numb from dumb.
Unsettling premise has some unknown supernatural force—and not remotely well-meaning—following people who have contracted its ire by innocently having sex with someone. And the only way to get free is to pass it on in the same fashion, with less innocence on the rebound.
Sounds exploitative as hell, but Mitchell leaves sickish titillation to other filmmakers or inside your own twisted cranium, as he fashions instead jolting visions of pure spill-popcorn, jump-from-seat, scare-the-cat dread. Careful: holding someone’s hand may result in broken fingers. The only person who can see “it” is the one infected, so everyone else thinks you’re batty, meanwhile you’re pursued with relentless malevolence. Is this the most brutal abstinence commercial since Sarah Palin?
The alarm bells ring through good, honest work from his fresh cast of talented unknowns pursued around a variety of well-picked locations and settings in and around decaying Detroit that split from genre norms. Forget the basement: broad daylight can screech you into new underwear in this movie. Mitchell makes brilliant use of wide-angle lenses in the superb cinematography from Mike Gioulakis, which gives the little $2,000,000 indie the look and feel of a big production. Very keen music score from Disasterpeace/Rich Vreeland recalls the best sounds arranged by John Carpenter for Halloween and Assault On Precinct 13, with some of the simple, throbbing eeriness that contributed so much to the mood of those favorites.
A hit with critics, pulling in a tidy $20,000,000, I call it a cinch to be regarded as a cult classic. Got nerve? Turn off the lights and follow this. 100 minutes, with Maika Monroe (excellent), Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zavatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Seppe.