Written by John Edward Betancourt
It's a wonderful thing to be able to say at long last, that horror, is one of the top genres out there in just about every facet. As a fan of the genre who spent many years telling people about motion pictures that are now household staples, it brings me great joy to see scary stories being such a big part of our daily lives.
Perhaps the greatest beauty of horror becoming so big of a genre, is the fact that now...the genre can take new chances and move in directions we have never quite seen before. And the other day I had the opportunity to see a film that could be considered the beginning of this experimental phase in the genre, It Follows.
The film introduces us to the young and beautiful Jay. A simple girl living a simple life and she may have finally found a wonderful boy to spend time with. He brings her joy, but his motives are the stuff of nightmares. He needs Jay, to pass along...It. It, is an unrelenting creature, one that takes all the time in the world to find and kill Its victim. The only way Jay can be rid of this thing, is to pass It along and now her world is turned upside down as she watches out of the corner of her eye to see if It has come for her at last.
It didn't take long for me to discover that while It Follows is not only a new breed of horror film, but also a giant love letter to the films that came before it. At times this motion picture feels like a classic 1970's horror flick, channeling the power of several directors all at once. The characters, Jay specifically, have the innocence of some of Wes Craven's work, while the power of sexuality that Cronenberg and Carpenter brought to the screen is also on full display as it pays homage to Tobe Hooper's ability to draw terror from every moment...all at once. If that seems like too much to be going on in a film, that would be incorrect, it works on so many levels and it's wonderful to see once again.
But where It Follows truly manages to leave you in awe, is in its new style of storytelling. This is a film that preys on imagination and is truly designed to be a personal experience because of the fact that the creature, and all the evil it represents is left as ambiguous as possible. In many ways one might think of this film as a living Choose Your Own Adventure novel since the audience gets the chance to interpret the story as they see fit. Something Director David Robert Mitchell reinforced in his Q&A session following the screening I was present for, since he never gave a straight answer and took joy in what the fans took away from the film.
It's that element of imagination, of your filling in of the blank that allows the film to become far more terrifying than a scene filled to the brim with jump scares or guts could ever produce. You question as to whether or not the characters are good people from the decisions they may or may not have made. You constantly wonder if It is real or not...and that's what makes the film so genius. The terror is never spoon fed to you, it's interactive and live and that makes this film one to see as soon as possible because of how fresh and energizing it is. It really is an experiment in the genre that works and one that will stay in your mind long after you've left the theater.