Scary STDs – ★★★★
Before the much-heralded The Babadook last year, there had been a dearth of of critically acclaimed horrors. Jennifer Kent’s film was so successful as it managed to get under your skin on numerous levels, with the unseen and the idea of what was being suggested being as terrifying as the horrors presented on-screen.
David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows continues this trend by opening the film with a terrifically mysterious opening with a scantily-clad girl running out of her suburban American house and looking devastated. She rushes into her car, drives off, rings someone to apologise and then a cut to the morning where we see her mutilated body on a beach. Boom. Slowly the film’s premise and rulebook is then outlined. You have sex with someone “infected” and you, and only you, then see creepy dead folk who are following you and trying to kill you. The only way to survive is to have sex with someone and pass it on to them. Oh and in a nod to traditional zombie films, the followers never run and just amble slowly toward you.
Mitchell’s screenplay hones in on the character of Jay (Maika Monroe, star of Spooool.ie favourite The Guest) who meets a guy and sleeps with him before being drugged and tied to a chair in a disused car-park. The guy disappears and leaves her with this curse. Friends (and an admirer) now have to help her in her mission to i) not go crazy, ii) ii) find some answers, and probably iii) solve the issue by getting the ride. It’s so simple and thankfully doesn’t descend into any slut-shaming or monogamy messaging.
For some reason Mitchell opts for John Carpenter’s Albertus font for his title which feels a little obvious after seeing them in the likes of Cold in July last year. It’s the one visual reference that doesn’t work, as everything else here looks really gorgeous with major credit due to relatively unknown cinematographer Mike Gioulakis and his Arri Alexa camera for getting so much detail into a dimly lit film like this.
A slightly troubling final act lets the film down. It provides resolution but does so in a way that seems both obvious and simple and didn’t feel quite worthy of the clever place-setting and pacing of the rest of the film. It might work for some viewers but you wonder whether the film deserved something more.
Released across Ireland on February 27th 2015