‘It Follows’…the same formula as all the others

“It Follows” is the third movie directed by David Robert Mitchell and his second feature length film. Though it has received much critical acclaim, “It Follows” is nothing more than an amalgamation of each iconic 80’s slasher, from Michael Myers to Jason Voorhees, doing nothing new and only making itself “fresh and unique” by not being another possession-type jump-scare extravaganza.

“It Follows” is a straight-forward, monster-themed horror movie starring Maika Monroe as Jay, the young woman unexpectedly given “it” through a casual sexual encounter with a date (Jake Weary), a type of STD (or “sexually transmitted demon”) that walks slowly, but always follows. After receiving “it”, Jay’s only options become passing it on (by sleeping with someone else) or letting it kill her. So Jay, her sister Kelly (Lili Sepp), and their friends Yara (Olivia Luccardi), Paul (Keir Gilchrist), and Greg (Daniel Zovatto) do their best to stay alive and defeat whatever “it” is.

Though it is a film full of good ideas, “It Follows” hardly succeeds in fleshing them out. It tries to cover far too many themes, including loss of innocence, rape, pregnancy and a litany of other things. The sheer amount of information the movie attempts to convey only makes the plot seem more fractured than it already is. The saving grace though, is how wonderfully realistic the characters seem. The dialogue is written in such a way that the teens seem real and not at all cliche, though this unfortunately seems to push too far and fall into an uncanny valley, making it seem like the writer (David Robert Mitchell) tried too hard. And of course this fact wasn’t helped by the less than stellar acting. Most lines were delivered flatly, the cast (mostly unknown, non-mainstream actors) had no chemistry, and a lot of serious lines came off as awkward and funny because the cast was trying very hard to be tense and anxious.

Speaking of which, everything about this film seemed to try too hard. The soundtrack was an attempt at an iconic horror sound, incredibly reminiscent of John Carpenter’s “Halloween” theme from ’78. Unfortunately for Mitchell, the music was always misplaced, put into scenes with no discernible tension or anxiety. Such placement was annoying and distracting, taking away from the overall atmosphere and adding nothing. Not to mention is seemed more like noise than creepy, frighteningly atmospheric music.

In terms of famous horror throwbacks, the soundtrack wasn’t the only thing similar to an iconic slasher film. The nature of the creature itself is a perfect mixture of Michael Myers (“Halloween”), Freddy Krueger (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”), and Jason Voorhees (“Friday the 13th”). Like Myers, “it” is “slow, but not stupid” and it seems to always appear in the background of any given scene with the victim. Like Krueger, it is invisible to all but the intended, but it can still affect the physical world around it. Also like Krueger, “it” is drawn to inappropriately sexual murders and emotional taunting (it may not speak, but it often appears as a loved one or familiar face). And finally, like Voorhees, it kills those that have sex with the infected and seems to be overly hesitant around water. Honestly if you have seen all three of those films (the originals, not the remakes), then “It Follows” will be nothing innovative. Unfortunately for “It Follows”, such classic monsters seem campy and amusing in this day and age, not bone-chillingly horrendous.

All in all, the film was more of a campy homage to the 80’s classics horror aficionados love so much, and nothing truly new. All things labeled as “fresh,” “new” or “unique” are merely done so by people who haven’t seen a scary movie outside of “Paranormal Activity” and “Insidious” in the last five years. “It Follows” isn’t new; it just isn’t from the zeitgeist of today. That may make it seem unique, but sadly it is anything but.