MY VOTE FOR BEST HORROR MOVIE OF 2015
Main Cast: Maika Monroe and Lili Sepe
Director: David Robert Mitchell
David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows is, hands down, the best horror movie of 2015. No question. Why that is so is something you’ll have to discover on your own. All I can do is tell you what it’s about and why I love it so much.
Put simply, It Follows is about 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe, The Guest) who has sex with her “boyfriend” Hugh (Jake Weary, “Pretty Little Liars”) who tells her after that he’s passed something on to her. The STD symbolism is rampant in this movie, but what Hugh’s given Jay isn’t that. Instead, there’s a curse. Hugh had it, now Jay has it. And if the curse kills Jay, it’ll come back to Hugh, so his best advice is to find someone, have sex with them, and pass it on to them. The curse takes the form of a person. Could be any person. Could be someone Jay knows, could be someone she’s never met before. Could be a naked man. Could be an old woman in a hospital gown. Could be a tall man in a stained T-shirt. Could be a toothless woman with one sock who’s peeing on herself as she walks. Whoever it is, no one will see them except Jay. It will be following her. It will be walking. It will be slow, Hugh tells her, but it will be coming. And if it touches you, you’re dead.
Then he unties her from the wheelchair he’d bound her to and drives her home where he dumps her in the street and drives off.
Jay doesn’t believe him at first, but when a figure appears at school the next day, one no one can see, she panics and decides there might have been some truth to Hugh’s claim.
With the help of her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe, “Lizzie McGuire”), their two best friends, siblings Paul and Yara (Keir Gilchrist, “The United State of Tara” and Olivia Luccardi, “Girls”), and Greg (Daniel Zovatto, “Revenge”), a neighbor, Jay tries to stay a few steps ahead of the curse, always vigilante and always with an escape plan, before it catches up to her.
This movie is gorgeous. Shot in wide-angles, every frame of the movie has that cinematic feel, even when you’re watching on your laptop. The screen is filled with detail and everything feels so much bigger than it is. It doesn’t hurt that Mitchell really knows how to frame a shot. Or to not frame one as the case may be, if we’re talking about a certain scene on the beach an hour into the movie. Misdirection, paranoia, uncertainty, they’re all not only the order of the day, they are also, apparently, Mitchell’s specialty because he employs all of them to imbue It Follows with more dread, tension and suspense than any other five of this year’s horror movies combined. But amid all that darkness, there’s an elegance as well. Everything about this movie is beautiful, even the ugly parts, which makes it all the easier to watch.
The performance of Maika Monroe is understated, while still maintaining the high level of anxiety and doubt her character needs to show. I’m not sure I can think of another current actress who would have played this role with such subtlety.
The sound design here by Kathie Talbot (As Above, So Below, another movie that was enhanced by great sound design) is worth mentioning, as well as the cinematography by Mike Gioulakis (Plus One and John Dies at the End), both of which give the movie timeless feel, and really work to bring the setting the life. Detroit isn’t just a setting, Gioulakis brings to life the suburb where our characters reside, and then he gives it manic depression and a drinking problem. Seriously, how do these characters afford these houses–and a lake house for Greg???–when they’re surrounded by such hopelessness everywhere they look. But it works. It enhances the mood of the movie and drives everything that’s going on.
It Follows is terrifying without being cheesy, suspenseful without being cliché, and the characters are believable without being predictable. It’s just a great movie.
This one’s easily in my top 5 horror movies of all time, and was definitely the best one I’ve seen in all of 2015–and that’s a LOT of horror movies this year. But this one tops the list, hands down.
I’ve seen others complain about the ambiguous ending, and I admit when I saw this in theaters, I wasn’t sold on it at first. But upon seeing it again, I’m totally at peace with the ending and think it not only fits the mood of the movie up to that point, but leaving it open to interpretation, considering how little information we’re given about the antagonist in the first place, is exactly the way to go. In my opinion. To give a definite yes or no, this happened or this didn’t happen, when we’re given so few details to go on anyway, would have put unnecessary restrictions on this world and this idea. And restrictions just don’t work here, the idea is too broad and too original.
Whatever horror movie gods Mitchell was communing with when this movie happened, I can think of a dozen other filmmakers who need to pay attention and start listening to whatever wisdom they’re doling out, because everything he did here was right. The horror is subtle, the jump scares aren’t telegraphed, and the REAL scares, holy sht they’re scary. I’m glad I bought the DVD as soon as I saw it was out, because this one needs to be in my collection, and I’m going to be watching it a lot. For me, It Follows is one of those movies I want to take great joy in watching with other people so I can vicariously watch it for the first time over and over. Excellent work, and I very much recommend this movie.
C. Dennis Moore is the author of over 60 published short stories and novellas in the speculative fiction genre. Most recent appearances were in the Dark Highlands 2, What Fears Become, Dead Bait 3 and Dark Highways anthologies. His novels are Revelations, and the Angel Hill stories, The Man in the Window, The Third Floor, The Ghosts of Mertland and The Flip. He is writing another Angel Hill novel called Return to Angel Hill with co-author David Bain.