It Follows … slowly and to an empty-destination

I’ve only just finished watching this movie so this is a very quickfire review, not a proper film analysis.

Having read from a few sources that last year’s movie It Follows is one of the best, if not THE best, horror movies to come out in ten years I went out of my to watch this one. And, having now seen it, if I had to give it an out of ten rating I’d go for a seven at best, more likely a six. I certainly agree that It Follows is one of the best American horror films for many years being that so few decent horror movies now come out of America, but I don’t think it’s as good as the fun, but effective, Drag Me To Hell or Cabin In The Woods. And at the international level I’d say it’s not up there with those very cool Japanese horror movies like The Ring, The Eye, The Grudge and the very special Audition (note that I didn’t include Dark Water there) and I don’t think it’s in the same class as Triangle (British), The Babadook (Australian) or Rec & Rec 2 (Spanish), the latter two of which are not the deepest of movies but are good solid entertainment.

So, positives first. I certainly hold hope for the future works of David Robert Mitchell because with It Follows he avoids several of the done-to-death horror movie tactics such as the very boring jump scares which, even when they aren’t predictable, fail to make a movie genuinely engaging. The characters in the movie aren’t the extremely annoying drama queen type teens we tend to get in a lot of horror flicks. They feel natural, but they’re also a little bland. The direction is slightly unusual and at times very creepy – nice use of symmetry and POV. There are a couple of nightmarish images and some highly effective scenes that burned well into my psyche. The use of 360 degree rotating camera movements and wide angle lenses is very good in places. And the originality and simplicity of the plot and supernatural enemy is the real star of the show, not least because it allows for a very small budget.

Now for the negative. Beneath the very simple plot are occasional details that possibly hint at deeper social themes to do with sexuality and death, but in all honesty I didn’t enjoy It Follows enough to be bothered watching it again, never mind doing a full blown film analysis. The first and foremost problem is in its pacing.  It’s just too slow. It buys into the art house cliche of having long stretches of silence and non-event, on the assumption that somehow the audience will perceive or project something of interest. And it doesn’t matter how nice and smooth the shots are in those moments. The edit could probably do with at least a ten minute trim to alleviate the boredom factor. I also think there are extensive missed opportunities to take the very good basic concept of the film and add layers of additional, non-verbal, communication to enhance those ideas. Especially in the long, silent sequences I kept hoping to at least find some visual and sound effect clues hinting at something extra. The film is also very limited in its emotional range. The initial relationship disappointment of the lead character could have been more sophisticated and could have carried stronger emotional punch. And the generalized reactions of the group of kids fighting the mostly unseen enemy is too played down in my opinion. They’re all just too polite, too nice. More umff please.

These are just my first impressions, but I’d certainly like to see a remake or sequel that significantly expands the basic premise and plays it out with more power.

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