It Follows is a brilliant and unnerving modern horror film with one of the most unique premises of all time. The movie stars Maika Monroe as a young girl who is infected with a curse in which an unstoppable entity follows her relentlessly until it catches her and kills her. The only way she can save herself is by passing on the curse to another through sex.
The movie was a surprise hit when it came out in 2014 and has been praised by one of the best horror films of the 21st century. The inventive and brilliant film achieved a lot on a small budget and has a lot to unpack in its complex story.
10 Nightmare Premise
It Follows is one of those movies with such a brilliant premise you wonder how someone could possibly have come up with an idea like that. For writer-director David Robert Mitchell, the idea came to him, appropriately, in a nightmare.
According to Mitchell, he had a recurring nightmare about being stalked by a predator who would simply walk slowly towards him. While that might not seem so scary, the movie proves that the gradual yet unrelenting pursuit from the entity is incredibly unnerving.
9 Ambiguous Era
Aside from the terrifying monster at the center of the story, It Follows does a fantastic job of leaving the audience disoriented and on edge in clever and simple ways. One example of this is the purposely ambiguous era in which the story is set.
The movie features a strange combination of old and new technology. Characters are seen watching movies on old television sets, while a character reads from a modern or even advanced e-reader. Similarly, the cars in the movie are a mix of old fashion and new models. This was Mitchell's way of throwing the audience off in small ways.
8 The Metaphor
Given the unique nature of the "monster" at the center of this horror film, there has been a lot of discussion as to the underlying meaning of the movie. A curse that can be passed through sexual intercourse certainly invites a lot of speculation and that has led to some very interesting theories.
Some fans think it is the obvious metaphor of sexually transmitted diseases, but Mitchell has hinted at a more complex idea. Some have speculated the film is a metaphor for sexual abuse in that the violation is something that stays with the victims and haunts them relentlessly.
7 Halloween Influence
As original as It Follows is, Mitchell admits to being inspired by a number of different sources as well as classic horror movies. One of the movie's biggest influences which are readily apparent is John Carpenter's groundbreaking slasher film, Halloween.
For starters, the film's main character is named Jay in homage to Halloween actor Jamie Lee Curtis. The entity's slow yet terrifying pace is reminiscent of Michael Myers stalking his victims. We also see a scene in which Jay is bored in class and glances out the window to see the entity outside, in a nod to the classic scene from Halloween.
Jay originally gets the curse after sleeping with a young man she was casually dating named Hugh. After the deed is done, Hugh explains to Jay the curse he has just transferred to you in a creepy and effective exposition scene.
Though it is important for Hugh to establish some rules for Jay and the audience, Mitchell explains that those are necessarily set in stone. Mitchell was careful to ensure Hugh's explanation was only things that Hugh has figured out himself and that he might be wrong about some of the rules. And despite some fans thinking they found a loophole, Mitchell confirms the entity could theoretically board a plan to chase its victims.
In one of the stranger inclusions in the movie, the character of Yara is frequently seen reading Dostoyevsky. Though it might seem pretensions, the quotes we hear throughout the film link closely to the movie and the unrelenting nature of the entity.
The quote that stands out the most comes at the end of the movie. Yara reads "Your soul will leave your body and you will no longer be a person, and that is certain; the worst thing is that it is certain." This might hint that Jay may never be free from the entity.
4 Tall Man
It Follows does separate itself from many modern horror movies by avoiding the normal jump scares. However, that does not mean it is devoid of legitimately scary moments. One of the most iconic scares comes when Jay sees a terrifying tall man emerge from the shadows and calmly walk into her room towards her.
The actor used to pull off this unforgettable moment was Mike Lanier who stood at 7'7". Lanier was a basketball player and one-half of the world's tallest twins. He also worked as an engine designer for General Motors in Detroit where the movie takes place. Sadly, he passed away in 2018.
3 The Kids' Plan
Though the film received huge praise and is considered by many to be a modern horror masterpiece, many have pointed the climax as a weak aspect. Desperate to rid herself of the entity, Jay and her friends go to a public pool and rig electrical devices, hoping to kill the entity in the water.
Though the plan seems ridiculous, Mitchell has admitted that it was intentional. Instead of being some genius plan they concoct, he wanted it to be a silly plan from kids who have no idea what they're doing. While it doesn't make for an incredibly exciting finale, its interesting to understand the intention behind it.
2 Jay's Dad
It is established earlier in the film that the entity can not only take the form of complete strangers, but it can also look like people the victims know. This makes the final form the entity takes very interesting.
As the kids wait in the pool for the entity to arrive, a seemingly normal looking man enters. When her friends ask Jay what it looks like, she says she doesn't want to tell them. However, eagle-eyed viewers may have been able to notice the man was seen in photographs at Jay's home, hinting that it is her father.
If you're looking for a great horror film to watch during the Halloween season, It Follows is an excellent one to revisit. Not only is it a fantastic and compelling story that holds your attention on repeat viewings, but there are some creepy background actors to pay attention to the second time around.
In several scenes, you can see background actors slowly walking forwards. The characters don't notice them and the movie doesn't make it obvious, but they are there. Whether it is the entity or just someone walking adds to the creepiness of the film.