It’s nearly impossible, in our horror-glutted culture, to find a novel spin to the classic tropes of scary movies.
But David Robert Mitchell does just that with “It Follows.” It’s a chased-by-zombie-walking-demons thriller in which the victims have to have sex in order to escape their fate.
That’s right. This isn’t some abandoned summer camp where kids go to get it on and pay the ultimate price for coitus. There’s some “It” out there that stalks one victim at a time. That victim has to pass on this stalker, this “curse,” to somebody else. By copulating.
Please keep your venereal disease metaphors to yourself.
The victim, like the pajama-clad Annie we briefly meet in the chilling opening scene, can see that stalker. It could be an old lover, a dead relative or a stranger. Only she can see it. She can jump in a car and flee, “but that only buys you time.” Even at zombie speed, the stalker will eventually get to you.
Jay (MaikIa Monroe) is a gorgeous blond enjoying life in suburban Detroit. There’s something a little skittish about her beau, Hugh (Jake Weary), but she has sex with him anyway.
Hugh then anesthetizes her, ties her to a chair and confesses. He “had to do it.” Here’s what’s coming for you. He even shows her. Only the two of them can see the stalker.
“It’s very slow. But it’s not dumb.” It follows her, and will follow her until it kills her. Gruesomely. But here’s how she can survive. Pass on the curse.
“It’s should be easy for her,” he reassures her friends. Teenagers and 20something young men are putty in a pretty girl’s hands.
Mitchell makes this movie about Jay’s terror, her torment, her remorse and guilt. Will she have sex to save herself? And will that sex save her, after all? Will she be willing to curse clued in and seemingly willing childhood pal Paul (Keir Gilchrist) with her “gift”?
The greys of fall color this stark, smart little movie, a world mostly free from adult intervention. These kids are on their own. Who will believe their story? Can they think their way out of this awful choice?
A few genuinely (and literally) hair-raising moments, a few knowing winks and a lot to think about lift “It Follows” above the horror pack. Sex, its consequences and a teenager actually grappling, in advance, with those consequences make this that rarest of rarities, a smart “dead teenager movie.”
MPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Jake Weary, Daniel Zovatto
Credits: Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell. A Radius/TWC release.
Running time: 1:40