David Robert Mitchell’s psychological, sexually charged horror It Follows lands on Blu-Ray and DVD this week and is more than worth a punt for fans of atmospheric chillers. A natty examination of sexual apprehension and an exercise in nightmarish relentlessness, It Follows is positively clammy with dread. It Follows is a first-rate example of relatively shock-free Mumblegore (Mumblegoreless perhaps) with a degree of panache that elevates it above much of the recent set-piece horror schlock.
Following an intimate liaison in the back of a car, college student Jay (Maika Monroe) becomes the unwitting recipient of a paranormal, sexually-transmitted curse by which victims are followed by a sinister, persistent entity that inexorably approaches at walking pace. Jay is seemingly powerless to stop the relentless march of the ghoul save for consistently putting miles between herself and it; although there is the option of another quick shag to pass on the curse.
Mitchell has spoken of how the slow-marching, unremitting antagonist of the film was inspired by a recurring nightmare from his youth. It’s this overwhelming sense of nightmareishness and vulnerability that gives It Follows its profound sense of uneasiness. Watching the film, and before I was even aware of its origins, I was immediately reminded of similar anxiety-filled dreams from my own youth and enjoyed its atmosphere of melancholy dread.
Mitchell largely eschews the jump-scares favoured by the likes of James Wan in favour of instilling a prolonged sense of disquiet. It’s a decision which lends itself well to the film considering its lo-fi aesthetic and angsty, hormonal subtext. It’s a pleasure see a horror film take this sort of approach, relying on the strength of its material and ability to hook a viewer with more than party tricks, and Mitchell knows, with extensive use of sweeping camera work and a joyously bleak synth score, how to wring the tension out of his script. By no means am I denigrating the raucous “good-time horror” of more accessible horror film offerings, but it’s a genuine treat to watch a film that’s content to bide its time.
Extras on the DVD don’t come thick and fast, but there’s an interesting conversation with musician Disasterpiece on his moody, simplistic score and his influences and inspirations.
If you’ve got your ear to the ground horror-wise, chances are you’re well ahead of this release. But for anyone who with a penchant for smart horror who may have missed this, it’s as gratifying as the fantastic faux-vintage promotional material suggests.
Horror | USA, 2014 | Icon Film Distribution | BD Release Date: 29th June 2015 (UK) | Rating: 15 | Director: David Robert Mitchell | Cast:Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe | Buy:It Follows [Blu-ray]