It Follows is Low Budget but High Horror

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Maika Monroe being followed (or is she?) in It Follows.

I don’t believe it. It couldn’t be. Another great horror movie has come along, and it’s name is It Follows.

I assumed that The Babadook was a one-time thing. We get one great horror movie, have to go through several years of bad ones, and then maybe we’ll get a second one. But no, it’s been less than a year since then and already got one.

It Follows knows that it’s fear, not gore, that makes a movie scary, which is why writer/director David Robert Mitchell uses virtually no blood in his movie. Grounded in dread and paranoia, Mitchell uses amazing wide angles and 360 degree pans to enhance the scares — as if he had been doing it all his life.

He hasn’t. He learned by watching classic George Romero and John Carpenter movies. And like all those great 80’s horror movies, the plot heavily features sex, although not in a bad way. For once, it actually has a point to serve. Jay (Maika Monroe) goes on a date with Hugh (Jake Weary). He is a nice guy, and seems a little anxious at times, but you can probably assume why. He chloroforms her one night after getting intimate. Nice guy. When she wakes up, she is tied to a wheelchair. Hugh explains to her that he had a curse where an entity endlessly pursues you until you have sex with someone else, passing off the curse to them. The thing changes appearances, and can only be seen by those who have or had it.

If the creature reaches you, it kills you and pursues whoever gave it to them. This is shown in the terrifying opening 5-minute sequence.

No wonder Jay is terrified.

We are too, as an audience. Aside from the no gore aspect, It Follows also doesn’t play the jump-scare card. No big boom tries to scare you. All the surprises are well earned, not cheap.

Yet it’s still terrifying. While the retro synthesizer score by Disasterpeace alone is scary, the idea of an invisible presence constantly following you is a great premise. Every time Mitchell’s camera rounds a corner, it’s hard not to feel anxious. Anything could be around that corner. Will the thing be there, waiting for you? Or not? How do you tell?

Multiple times during the movie I found myself screaming at the screen, “Don’t go in there!” (not out loud, of course). The dread at times is unbearable, which is exactly how a good horror movie should feel.

One more lesson horror movies need to learn from this is that It Follows was made for $2 million, an insanely low-budget for any movie, not just horror. It has a cast and creative crew made of nobodies, doesn’t feature the typical blood and gore of most horror movies, and is, above all, and independent film. Yet, it still managed to make almost $20 million at the box office. The only time horror movies with that low of a budget made that substantial of a profit is when they are “found footage” (don’t even get me started on those). So please, let it be known that a low-budget scary movie can be made without a hand-held video camera. A normal, good horror movie can be made without shelling out crazy amounts of money for effects and stars.

Even if Hollywood ignores this way of moviemaking (which they probably will), at least we’ll always have It Follows.

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