Is It Follows really as good as everyone is saying?
That’s actually a very legitimate question. It Follows is one of the most critically acclaimed horror films in recent years. It’s been described as being a “game changer” and as being one of the best films of 2015 so far. But, as we all know, just because a film has been acclaimed by mainstream critics that does not necessarily make it a great film. The mainstream is just as often wrong as its right. That’s especially true when it comes to the horror genre.
So, is It Follows really that good?
It is certainly an effective film. It’s well-made. It’s well-acted. Director David Robert Mitchell makes us jump a few times. The film takes the horror cliché of “sex equals death” to its logical extreme and, as a result, it makes you think about the subtext of many of your favorite horror films.
The film deals with a college student named Jay (Maika Monroe) who has sex with her boyfriend and soon discovers that, by doing so, her boyfriend has passed on a “curse” to her. She finds herself being stalked by a slow-moving but unstoppable entity, one that only she can see. The only way to get rid of the entity is to have sex with someone else.
It’s never explained just what or who the entity is or why it’s so intent on killing. And, for that, It Follows deserves to be applauded. Far too many horror films get bogged down in trying to explain the origin of its horror. It Follows understand just how potent the fear of the unknown truly is and, ultimately, the sight of that shape-shifting entity – always there and always following – is scary precisely because it is so enigmatic.
At the same time, I think it’s telling that It Follows has received some of its strongest support from critics who traditionally do not care for horror films. In fact, many of the positive reviews for It Follows have been somewhat condescending towards horror as a genre. “Finally!” the critics seem to be saying, “An intelligent horror film!”
Of course, a true horror fan knows that intelligent horror films are not that unusual. They also know that It Follows is hardly the first horror film to work as a metatextual commentary on the horror genre itself. Many of the critics who are currently declaring It Follows to be the greatest horror film ever made are doing so because they don’t understand that the horror genre has been giving us great films for a while now.
It Follows is an effective and scary film, even if it is a bit too self-consciously arty at times. It made me jump, it made me cover my eyes, and it even made me scream at one point and that – though the mainstream critics may never admit it – is really all that’s required from a good horror film. To all of my fellow horror fans, I recommend It Follows without hesitation. But let’s not pretend like It Follows is the first good horror film ever made, okay?