It Follows (2014)
Studio: The Weinstein Company/Anchor Bay
Release date: July 14th, 2015
Reviewed by: Brett Gallman
Sex has been an irrecoverably associated with destruction for as long as mankind has been able to craft mythology. Consider especially the term ďcarnal knowledge," a Biblical turn of phrase forged out of Old Testament hellfire-and-brimstone: sex isnít just a physical act but rather one that also brings knowledge, be it of a partner or of a trembling sense of shame. The latter especially continues to endure centuries later: anxiety continues to surround sex, as it still serves as one of our most recognizable thresholds for adulthood. We canít wait to get there, but, in many cases, we may be just as eager to reclaim that lost innocence once we realize what crossing through it actually means.
It Follows is a film that slithers and coils around this encroaching awareness that we canít turn back; for Jay (Maika Monroe), a young college student haunted by a sexually transmitted ghost, this is quite literal. While she must continuously look back over her shoulder, her only recourse is to constantly run from the specter that will follow her for the rest of her life. Itís not so much the sex thatís going to eventually kill her, but rather the growing understanding that teenage angst lingers like a ghost in its own right, constantly appearing as a reminder that life only grows more complicated. Along with her friends, all of which are at varying points in their sexual maturation (for example, Keir Gilchrestís Paul is fighting a losing battle against his creepy white knight impulses), Jay seeks refuge in childhood haunts: playgrounds, rec centers, a beach house.
All of these sanctuaries are now tainted, though, as writer/director Robert David Mitchell transforms a sleepy Detroit suburb into a disquieting dreamscape. Eerie tracking shots prowl beneath somber, dusky skies, allowing the audience to become a voyeur into a girlís sexual nightmare. Even before Jay and her friends become unwitting participants in this modern urban legend, an air of ominous valediction hangs over the proceedings: her boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary) pointedly longs to trade places with a child at a movie theater (for he knows what she does notóyet), while conversations with her friends are portentous preludes. Though leaves pepper the ground and school is in session, Mitchell captures a melancholy end-of-summer vibe and amplifies it to a foreboding plane, where even a seemingly innocuous dissolve that transports Jay from the safety of her doorstep to cavorting in the woods with Hugh becomes a sinister transition. It Follows is full of bravura, but itís the small moments like that one that creep up on you.
After taking a leap of faith and granting It Follows a wide release earlier this year, The Weinstein Company turns to Anchor Bay for the filmís home video debut. The Blu-ray release does not disappoint; as It Follows is one of the most visually and aurally striking films in recent memory, it deserves the fine high definition presentation here. The filmís natural hues are well transferred to the disc, and the intricate production design pops off of the screen. An immersive DTS-MA track provides nice accompaniment for the filmís already indelible score and unnerving ambient sounds to pulse throughout your living room.
In terms of quantity, the extras are light, as a five-minute conversation with composer Disasterpiece joins a trailer, a poster art gallery, and a criticsí commentary for a sparse collection. However, the commentary is a rich engaging track hosted by preeminent horror critic Scott Weinberg, whose chatty approach gives the impression of having a conversation with a pal as you watch a movie. In fact, thatís quite literally what he does, as he brings in a quintet of other critics to provide their own insight, including Eric Snider, Britt Hayes, Sam Zimmerman*, Alison Nastasi, and Eric Vepse, all of whom bring a unique perspective in exploring the filmís themes and style. In addition to being quite informative, the track allows each participant to highlight their favorite aspects of the film, from its gender/sexual politics to Mitchellís ability to remix his obvious influences into something refreshing.
At one point, thereís a discussion about the legacy of It Follows and where itíll stand in about twenty years; if I may be so bold to add my own thoughts, Iíd say thereís a better than good chance that itíll be well-established in the pantheon by then. Considering itís already drawn comparisons to A Nightmare on Elm Street and other classics, itís safe to say that this film is set to endure and haunt generations to come. One thing I can say with great confidence: It Follows is among my favorite films (horror and otherwise) in recent yearsóin fact, Iíve already scheduled a third viewing for Halloween. Trust me when I say that is just about my highest level of praise.
*Full disclosure: Iíve contributed some articles at Shock Till You Drop for Sam, and I consider some of these folks to be Twitter acquaintances, colleagues, friends, etc. comments powered by Disqus Ratings: