It Follows is like an illness, something one can pass along to someone else by sleeping with him/her. Jay (Monroe) is dating a “nice” boy named Hugh (Weary), but when they go on a date to the movies, he has to leave abruptly. They’ve been playing a guessing game from Jay’s childhood, and when it’s time for him to guess whom she picked, she can’t see the Jay’s choice, he points to someone Jay cannot see, and when she can’t, that’s when he says he feels ill and they must leave.
After dinner and a quiet walk in the woods, they have sex in the car, but the horror is that Jay ends up tied to a wheelchair and Hugh is walking around with a flashlight searching, for what? Sure enough, a strange woman starts walking toward them, and he informs Jay that he has given her something like a curse, whereby she will be followed by shadowy figures, perhaps in the form of people she knows, or perhaps strangers. She will be plagued by these with the threat of death until she sleeps with someone and gives “It” to someone else. The catch is there is a boomerang effect such that if the person you’ve given “It” to dies too quickly you will be targeted again.
Hugh dumps Jay off in the street in front of her house and she is, of course, traumatized. The police are called, and she enlists the help of her sister and friends, who are very supportive, and promise to stick right by her so that nothing will happen to her. That would be the wise, sane thing to do, but Jay is constantly running off by herself in the dark to isolated places. There are numerous encounters with the followers who often appear zombie-like, but no one can see them but Jay. Hugh has disappeared, and the friends work together to identify and locate him. They are successful, and find that his name is actually Jeff, so they find out where he lives and give him a visit. He acknowledges everything and apologizes to Jay, but reiterates what she has to do to pass this “thing” on to someone else.
Greg, one of Jay’s neighbors, offers to help, and takes the whole group to his family’s vacation home (as if whatever “It” is couldn’t follow them there). This thing has supernatural powers—like being visible only to the one(s) that carries the curse. Later, we see more powers, like the apparition not dying after its head is shot off. After a series of accidents, Greg offers to sleep with Jay, thinking he will be able to withstand “It” and save her. At first nothing happens, and then… Finally, in desperation, the group decides to set up a trap in a pool, involving electricity.
I was not especially taken in by the horror of this film, although the group of young actors are good, as are the special sound effects (Christian Dwiggins), music (Rich Vreeland), and Mike Gioulakis’ haunting camera work with light and shadow. I found something like 2013’s The Conjuring much more scary and horrifying. It was easy to suspend reality and get into the action. Here, there was a bit of jumpiness, but I was more bothered by Jay continually running off by herself into dark, isolated places, and the characters not getting in touch with parents or following up with the police after they talked to Jay the morning after her encounter with Hugh/Jeff.
I must say, too, that creating a situation for young people whereby they can pass something evil on to someone else in order to save themselves is rather twisted. People have done that with sexually transmitted diseases, but that doesn’t work to save themselves, as is the case here.
Seeing things others can’t see.
Grade: C By Donna R. Copeland