David Robert Mitchell, the writer/director of new horror film, ‘It Follows’, reveals to us his views on the genre, the decision to cast up-and-coming starlet Maika Monroe, and how the premise is based on a childhood nightmare.
'It Follows' may be his debut in the genre, but Mitchell insists he's always been a big admirer. “I’ve always liked horror ever since I was a kid. I love all kinds of films but I’ve definitely been a big horror fan all my life.”
The premise for the film — an entity that follows a chain of hapless teens around with sinister intent — has been with him from a very young age.
"The basic idea came from a recurring nightmare I had as a kid. I was being followed by a monster that would look like different people — strangers or people I knew – and it was always very slow, but always walking right towards me. I could always get away from it, but it was so disturbing that it was always coming for me.” Essentially, this is the concept behind ‘It Follows’, which is the Michigan-born filmmaker’s sophomore feature. However, the physical transference of this entity (the obvious subtext of this relentless nasty being an STD) is a new addition to his nightmare. “As an adult I thought it’d be fun to have it be passed through sex,” he says. “Physically and emotionally, so I put the ideas together.”
Yet it’s based on a degree of misfortune that ‘It Follows’ even exists today, rather than being a future project set for release a year or two down the line. “I wrote it in 2011 and really quick. When my other project wasn’t happening and we were struggling to find the money -- I had intended to do this as my third film -- we moved this up as we thought we may have more luck with a genre film and that people would be more willing to pay for it – and this was true!
Starring the fresh-faced Maika Monroe (‘The Guest’), her composed, yet soothing performance is perhaps what holds the film together at its core. “I genuinely believed her,” Mitchell says of his lead when he saw her in action. “There was vulnerability in her performance that made me worry for her, care for her and be concerned for her. There’s something very honest and believable.” And it’s true; Monroe does a fine job of portraying the girl next door type and fits into the horror genre well.
Interestingly, Mitchell is confident he will tackle something completely different for his third directorial outing, with his debut, ‘The Myth of the American Sleepover’, falling into the comedy category, and ‘It Follows’ being a firm horror.
"I’m planning to do my next film this year; it’ll probably be a drama. But I have some things in very different genres… I wanna jump around a lot — mystery, fantasy, a detective story; all kinds of stuff." So it looks like he won’t be expanding his talents in horror just yet, but refuses to rule out a return. "I imagine I will make another horror at some point. I’m open to that, but probably not as the next movie because I like to challenge myself and do things I haven’t done before."
'It Follows' is in UK cinemas now, so be sure to track it down — it's worth it.
Picture credits: WENN, Northern Lights Films, Icon