Sunday, March 29, 2015

It Follows Review

I normally don't see horror movies. The reason for this is that there are just so many terrible horror movies nowadays that all follow the same stupid horror cliches. You know, dumb people played by terrible actors doing dumb things. Jump scares galore usually accompanied with gruesome violence and/or gore to try to scare audiences. No sense or care for a decent plot or any logic whatsoever. They just don't interest me. So I don't even give them a shot. However, a well-done horror movie is something that I can definitely fall in love with, so I don't have anything against the genre in general. Last year the movie The Babadook was a horror movie that I gave a shot and absolutely loved. In fact, it gave me renewed hope that good horror movies can still be made. Thus when this small indie movie called It Follows was received with remarkable reviews, so much so that they decided to release it into over 1,000 theaters instead of sending it straight to VOD after its small release, I decided that I wanted to give it a shot. While The Babadook restored my faith in the genre, It Follows proved that The Babadook wasn't a fluke. Yes, another good horror movie!

If you're not a movie buff like myself, there's a good chance that you have never even heard of It Follows because it wasn't exactly advertised very much. Instead of bombarding us with trailers and TV spots, they're going purely on word of mouth with this because, like I said, the plan for this wasn't to give it a wide release. So let me take a second to tell you what this is all about without giving too much away. The premise for this is actually mysterious and vague, which is the beauty of this. Going around the town is something strange. We don't know much about it. It's just "it." What does "it" do? Yup, you guessed it. "It" follows. You don't want "it" to follow you. If "it" follows you, you are screwed. "It" will slowly walk towards you until "it" catches you and "it" kills you. You can pass "it" on, but if the person you passed "it" onto gets killed, "it" will go back to following you. "It" can take the form of any human being and thus if "it" is following you, you will be deathly afraid of any human being you see.

There's a lot of things that make this movie work and they all have to do with basic elements of film that most horror movies nowadays decide to completely ignore. First off is an interesting and engaging story. This wasn't a psychological horror movie like The Babadook, but it also wasn't just a serial killer or demon centered thrasher movie like many horrors are. The whole movie is shrouded in mystery and I loved that. You don't know what "it" is. You don't know the background behind "it." You don't know who started "it." Do you find out? I'm not going to tell you. But it's an engaging plot that is also legitimately terrifying at times. It's terrifying in a way that doesn't rely on any jump scares at all. It's just people slowly walking. I appreciated that. Jump scares aren't inherently bad, but when a horror movie relies solely on jump scares and nothing else, then it gets ridiculous rather fast.

The second basic element of film that makes this a good movie is a little thing called acting. I don't know why some horror movies think that this is unnecessary, but sadly it happens way too much. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a horror movie where I didn't care one bit about the characters because of either poor writing, poor acting, or both. It's like the people who put those movies together thought all they needed to do was make a movie with a bunch of jump scares instead of focusing on story and acting. I don't know why they think this because it really makes a huge difference when you make a horror movie in which you actually care about the characters. Thus is proven in It Follows. I didn't know any of these actors going in, but they all did a fantastic job, especially the main girl who has the curse for most of this movie. I cared about them. I was emotionally invested in them. I wanted them to succeed by getting rid of "it."

In addition to a great story and a great cast, what really was the glue that held the movie together were all the technical aspects. Instead of relying on endless jump scares to make this freaky, it instead relied on great camera work and excellent music. First off, the camera work. This isn't done with found footage  or shaky cam, but rather it looks like very subtle hand-held camera. I say "looks like" because I'm not an expert and figuring out exactly what methods or styles they are doing, but nevertheless you are travelling with the characters, but the appearance is slightly shaky enough and at the perfect distance to appear that the camera is from the first person perspective of "it." You're not as you can see "it," but it gives off a really tense feel vibe as you move throughout the movie. Second, the score for the movie is really creepy. When the characters are casually walking down the city and "it" is not around, the music is very mysterious and gives off the vibe that something is not right. Then when "it" shows up in different forms, the creepy music starts up and it is so good that it makes casual people walking seem terrifying. Because that's all that "it" appears as. "It" isn't creepy, gruesome, or scary by itself, but the music makes it that way. Because you actually care for the characters, when "it" gets closer and the music gets louder and more intense, the movie itself gets rather terrifying in a way that gives quite the awesome rush. I walked out very satisfied.

In summary, I'm usually not a fan of horror movies. I gave up on the genre quite some time ago, but last year's The Babadook gave me hope that there can be good horror movies out there. It Follows "followed" that up by giving me a second good horror movie in as many years. It works because it actually follows the aspects of film-making that make a good film that most horror movies nowadays just ignore. It's a good story with well written characters played by fairly unknown actors that actually do a great job. The movie is rather terrifying because it does it in a natural way providing intense, scary moments with excellent camera work and music rather than just endless jump scares topped off with gruesome images. I was fully invested in this movie from start to finish which was very refreshing giving the lack of quality movies in the genre. There are some gruesome and graphic images that make this movie not for everyone, but if you are searching for a good, solid horror movie that is actually worth seeing, I highly suggest you give this one a shot. It's definitely one of the best movies from the first third of the year and thus I will give It Follows a solid 9/10.

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