By JIMMY LICHTENWALTER
Imagine this – at this very moment, there is something out in the world coming for you. Slowly, maliciously, methodically, it walks toward you, step-by-step. You can try to run from it, maybe to buy some time but eventually, it will catch up to you. There’s simply no escaping it.
This disturbing notion is the center of the new horror film “It Follows,” a sophomore effort by independent filmmaker David Robert Mitchell. Effective and inventive, “It Follows” is a refreshing horror film that relies on old-fashioned filmmaking to elicit scares rather than excessive gore or cheap jump scenes.
Describing the plot of “It Follows” has proven to be pretty tricky. Without Mitchell’s use of imagery, it doesn’t have the same effect on paper. The film follows Jay (Maika Monroe), a college student who finds herself haunted and stalked by an unknown entity.
The only advice I can give audiences is to just go with this premise. Mitchell certainly does. He isn’t very interested in divulging the origin or nature of the ghost. Rather, he spends most of the film trying to subtly creep out audiences, a task he accomplishes with bravado.
What is immediately evident from this film, even from its first shot, is both Mitchell’s skill and command as a visual storyteller. His camera moves and glides throughout the film with an eerie proficiency that reminds me of Stanley Kubrick, David Fincher or John Carpenter. Not only is Mitchell an effective director of suspense and tension, but he also has an incredible eye for suburban America.
The amount of dread he is able to fit into a simple static shot of an abandoned house or a car passing in the night is incredible. While they have no right to be scary, the scenes of the entity slowly walking toward Jay are also eerie and unnatural ordeals. This only serves as an indicator of Mitchell’s skill as a director.
Right off the bat, it is easy to read the film’s most basic themes, yet I think Mitchell is up to something a little more wily and subtle than that. I find it interesting that film lingers on Jay’s seemingly normal suburban life, and how this entity subsequently invades and disrupts this life. With the ghost on the prowl, benign things such as lamp posts, swings and cars suddenly become sinister. It is almost as if something is slowly invading and warping the “normal” suburban lifestyle.
With “It Follows,” David Robert Mitchell establishes himself as one of the up-and-coming filmmakers. The film is smart, disturbing, and—above all—scary. It is certainly one of the most haunting pieces of American filmmaking to be made in some time.