Movie Review: 'It Follows' (2014)

When a young woman (Maika Monroe) contracts a communicably transmitted apparition, her, her sister and their friends join forces to outrun the deadly specter in “It Follows.” Opening on a scene depicting what will happen if they fail, writer/director David Robert Mitchell, sets the stage for a high stakes game of keep-away.

Set in an unknown time period that is clearly not the past, Jay is just a regular young adult before all hell breaks loose. When “It Follows” begins, she is looking for love and is in the early stages of a promising relationship with Hugh (Jake Weary).

Right after their latest date turns intimate for the first time, Hugh reveals his true motivations for the seduction, and it is dire. Before he slept with Jay, he had contracted a sexually transmitted ghost from his previous partner. By sleeping with Jay, he has passed on his curse. 

The rules of “It Follows” are then laid out. They can be comparatively described as a blend between the principles of tag and a chain letter.

Person A has the ghost STD and sleeps with Person B. The GSTD or "IT" is then transmitted to Person B, who is then stalked by IT. IT is a non-living entity that can take the physical form of any living person.

IT then walks, very slowly, towards Person B. If they reach them and successfully make physical contact, Person B will die. IT will then turn their attention back to Person A with the same goal, and the cycle continues.

There are a few side rules. The only person who can see IT is the person with the GSTD. IT always knows where you are. You can get a lead on IT by creating a physical cushion between you through distance (i.e., a car ride), but when you sleep, IT will make progress. 

IT never stops.

Faced with all of the facts, Jay is faced with a moral dilemma as “It Follows” gets going. If she sleeps with someone else, she will just hand them her nightmare. If she does not, she will have to run for the rest of her days.

Of course, the implications of another person taking the bullet, thus saving her is also explored in this scenario. Unfortunately, it is not at the depth it could have been.

Is the person who offers to lift this burden doing so out of the goodness of their heart? Or are they using it as a device to sleep with someone they may have otherwise never had a chance to? That is just one of the myriad of questions and conundrums such a dilemma induces.

Image by RADiUS-TWC/Dimension Films
Here lies the greatest strength of “It Follows.” It is a morality tale that uses supernatural means to tell a story that readily applies to real life. For the millennial generation, it hits home as a forewarning of the authentic consequences, sex can have. 

The scariest thing about “It Follows” is not that there is an inescapable, supernatural entity that creeps closer and closer to its victims. That is all fake, horror movie stuff. The frightening thing is that an apparition like IT actually exists in the world. It is called an STD, and like IT, they can be incurable. 

With its story, “It Follows” cleverly presents a thinly veiled and much needed PSA, and for that, it deserves seismic praise.

Where its downsides rests are as a horror film. “It Follows” is not as deep as some might suspect and not as shallow as other films of its kind have been. It is provocative in that it tries to dig a little deeper.

Where it falls into clichรฉ is in the lack of any parental presence and the over-reliance on peers to solve fellow youngster’s problems. It is a tiresome trope that does the movie, no favors.

When it comes to conveying a commentary on the modern travails plaguing millennials, “It Follows” readily brings to mind fellow 2014 film “Unfriended.” Like “It Follows,” “Unfriended” uses a supernatural story as an allegory to present the consequences of young people’s actions. However, “Unfriended” handles the task with sleeker execution and style.

The performances of the young cast in “It Follows” are all admirable. Actress Maika Monroe particularly shines as a vulnerable “final girl,” Jay. Her fear is consistently palatable, and her likability never wavers. After impressive supporting turns in the 2012 drama “At Any Price” and 2014’s “The Guest,” Monroe further cements herself as a young actress to watch out for in the coming years.

With a few pacing problems towards the end, “It Follows” spins its wheels longer than it should, losing the momentum it builds throughout its first half. That is due in large part to the apparent attempt to set up a sequel. 

One of the essentials to approaching “It Follows” is to ignore the precursory buzz you might have heard and go in with measured expectations. Otherwise, disappointment might follow. Rating: 6.5/10 

[Featured Image by RADiUS-TWC/Dimension Films]