365 Movies By Day Reviews of Movies I Watch that I Feel Like Writing About


It Follows (2015)

Total creep fest. 2015 was looking for a legitimate horror. While this movie has completely flown under the radar for the general public, word of mouth has allowed the independent It Follows to quickly become a cult classic. Not only is this the best horror movie of 2015, it is the best horror movie in years. Honestly, the feeling that I got while watching this movie was what I expected to feel in, perhaps, the most over-hyped horror movie of all-time, 1999's The Blair Witch Project. I think when I saw The Blair Witch Project in the theater, I was expecting to be scared in ways that I had never been scared before. I know that a few of the friends that I went with were completely freaked out and I was wondering if we had just watched the same movie. The Blair Witch Project is a different type of horror than, say, A Nightmare on Elm Street. I think that perhaps as a 23-year-old, I hadn't yet adapted the idea that what you might imagine could be more terrifying than what you actually see. I've mentioned on this blog a couple of times that I need to go back and watch The Blair Witch Project just to see if I view it the same way that I did 16 years ago. By looking at its 87% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, I'm willing to admit that I am probably missing something when I give it a grade of a D-. But this is neither here nor there. This about It Follows, which is much more like The Blair Witch Project than it is A Nightmare on Elm Street. It's 96% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes is very much on par to my view of the movie. It Follows is an instant horror classic.

It's hard to make a really good horror in this day and age. You really have to do something special. It's just really, really hard to scare people in new ways. Since 2005There are so many great things about this movie. I loved its originality. I loved its tone. I loved it ever looming mysterious score. But mostly I loved how it played with my mind. The acting was serviceable, but the main members of the cast did what they were supposed to do...they acted scared. The cast is full of no-name actors and actresses and that is exactly what you want. The less you can identify with these people outside of this move, the more real these characters seem. I loved the very first scene of Scream, but I feel like something was lost when the woman on the phone in the empty house was Drew Barrymore (who I like a lot), but couldn't help thinking that this was the little girl from E.T. The more ordinary these characters were, the more realistic the story felt. And the story is cool. Ironically, there are a couple of tributes to the same Scream movie I just referenced. I really feel like director David Robert Mitchell (The Myth Of The American Sleepover) was influenced by components of Scream, sort of including including the film's opening scene. I do not know if Mitchell was influenced by this movie, but it certainly seems possible. But there is certainly a huge difference between It Follows and Scream. Scream, while frightful and entertaining, sort of poked fun at the horror genre. Since the franchise was created by the master of terror Wes Craven, I think Scream was better received than it might have been. Perhaps not.

The plot of the movie deals with a character that follows the lead the character(s) around. This character (who I'll simply refer to as The Follower going forth) can take the appearance of any human form. The Follower has one goal. It needs to simply touch the afflicted person. Once the afflicted person is touched, he/she meets a very violent death. So how does one become afflicted and what can be done once the affliction occurs? Well to answer the first question, you inherit the disease when you sleep with someone who is infected. We are uncertain how many people are infected. It may just be the inner circle that this characters are in. There is certainly no discussion among people outside of the small group about it. It's almost like this group of friends acts completely independent of the rest of the world which, for a film like this, is just fine for me. When you have sex with someone, you pass on the supernatural entity (The Follower) onto that person. The only way the newly infected person can pass it on is if they sleep with someone else. However, neither party is ever truly safe because if the person that is passed onto gets killed, the person who had just passed it on is once again fair game. Keeping up? It's not as complicated as it sounds. Just know that if you are a character that has this or has had this, your life might never be safe again.

So, as mentioned, if the afflicted person is just touched by The Follower, a very brutal death is forthcoming (which we really don't see...this is not a gory film). The good news is The Follower cannot go any faster than a determined walking pace. It cannot run. The bad news though is that The Follower always knows where you are and it seems to have an uncanny ability to get into secluded places. The good news is that only the afflicted can see The Follower. This means that an afflicted person can ask his/her friends if they see the human form that they believe could be The Follower. If they can, all is good. If they can't, run like hell. The bad news is that only the afflicted person can see The Follower. So when it is there tormenting the afflicted person, his/her friends can only guess as to where this thing might be. It is essentially invisible to them.

The unknown actors in this movie are a group of friends and consist of the lead actress Jay (Maika Monroe - Labor Day, The Guest), her boyfriend Jeff (Jake Weary - Zombeavers), her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe), and friends Paul (Keir Gilchrist - The Stanford Prison Experiment, Tales of Halloween) and Greg (Daniel Zovatto - Innocence, Beneath). The Follower is played by dozens of different people. Sometimes the audience can spot The Follower right away and at other times it appears when we are least expecting it. Mitchell does a great job at mixing in both. What makes this movie so freaky is the uncertainty involved with it all. This is not a movie about blood and gore. It's a movie about dread and anxiety. You are never safe. You can never relax. You cannot make sense of what's happening. And you have no way to stop any of it. And sometimes you are guessing who The Follower is just like those characters in the movie that can see it.

And the score is killer (pardon the pun). It's one of those scores that, in a lesser movie, would certainly have come across as overbearing and premeditating. It wouldn't have worked in a lesser film. But because It Follows has scared you as early as it does and captivated you as deeply as it does, the score becomes as much of a character as The Follower itself.

Here we go again at comparing 2010 and 2015 (my two favorite years for movie since writing this blog). 2010 was amazing. As of the time of this posting, it is the best year for movies in my lifetime. 2015 as been awesome, but it is going to be really, really hard to dethrone 2010. However, 2010 lacked both a great horror film and a great comedy. The best comedy of that year was Get Him to the Greek and that movie is nowhere close to being as funny as 2015's Trainwreck. 2010 also lacked a good horror movie. 2015 doesn't have a good horror movie. It has a great one. Trainwreck and It Follows will not be forgotten when I think about 2015. My favorite horror of the 21st century is definitely The Ring and is followed closely by The Descent. I cannot think of another one that I would put above It Follows. This movie further proves that you don't need a big budget to make a quality horror...or any quality movie really. Now about that viewing of The Blair Witch Project...

Plot 10/10
Character Development 7.5/10
Character Chemistry 7/10
Acting 8/10
Screenplay 10/10
Directing 10/10
Cinematography 9/10
Sound 10/10
Hook and Reel 10/10
Universal Relevance 9/10 (it's the nightmare we've all had over and over being played out in real life)

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