It Follows: Is Modern Horror Raising The Bar?

Mike P Williams
Contributor

With a number of early reviews pointing towards it being a horror film to take note of, ‘It Follows’, so far, is ticking all the right boxes, which begs the question: has the genre reached a significant turning point?

The ‘turning point’ being that, after copious amounts of proverbial trash released into the cinematic domain, there seems to be a slow-building, consistent trend of, dare I say it, great horror coming out.

And already it’s generating suitable buzz ahead of its 27 February cinema release. ‘It Follows’ is a film that sets itself apart from run-of-the-mill horror that’s churned out annually. It’s edgy, unnerving, and avoids falling into the typical pitfalls so many of its kind tend to.

Week’s Horror News In Brief
'Clean Slate' For World War Z 2
Chilling Trailer For It Follows

The Growing Trend

Last year’s ‘The Bababook’ earned praise as one of the best horrors in recent years, while 2013’s ‘You’re Next’ proved a hit with its direct, yet sly twist on the genre. And similarly, ‘It Follows’ is also building momentum with the critics, too.

It Follows: The Story 

The idea behind it is certainly an interesting one. Centring on 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe); her impending summer of frolicking quickly turns sour after a brief sexual encounter curses her with an unknown entity that, ahem, follows her. Whatever it is intends to kill the most recently infected victim, allowing director David Robert Mitchell to utilise its unique premise to generate some original scenarios and effective scares.

Message Behind The Scares

Its subtext — a commentary on the promiscuity of today’s generation and the dangers of STDs — adds an intelligent, relevant point to the film; similar to how last year’s ‘The Bababook’ offered a devastating depiction about coping with grief.

Director Mitchell appears to have blended a number of elements here, and adds to a growing list of respectable horror titles released in recent years, including ‘Let the Right One In’, ‘American Mary’, ‘The Loved Ones’ and ‘[REC]’, to name a few.

Public Perception

The trouble with mainstream cinema is that it’s often difficult to distinguish the unmissable from the missable prior to release. Indeed, the first images for ‘It Follows’ doesn’t, on initial inspection, appear to offer anything more than recycled tropes, but in truth it’s so much more.

The most memorable recent horrors (like 'SAW', pictured above) are the ones that not only do their primary job well (aka scare you), but the function of an actual story, complete with subtext (and something interesting to say amidst gore and blood-splattering), is what separates them from the crowd.

Neil Marshall’s 2005 cave expedition chiller, ‘The Descent’, combines function with intellect, which differentiates from snooze fodder like ‘The Reborn’ or most recently ‘Annabelle’.

Last Resident Evil Shooting This Summer
Salma Brings The Pain As Everly
Unfriended Trailer Brings Horror Online

Box Office Gamble

'It Follows' has the chance to stand alongside these notable titles as a memorable, defining 21st Century horror. Whether it'll do well financially is anyone's guess — mainstream appeaser 'The Conjuring' took a surprising $318 million in 2013, yet last year's acclaimed 'The Babadook' accumulated a measly $5 million, so it'll be a case of how successfully it's marketed to the mainstream. 

All will become clearer once it hits, but what is evident is that ‘It Follows’ is the most unsettling, original horror in years and adheres to the growing trend of respectable horror worthy of every film fan’s time.

'It Follows' is released in the UK on 27 February, 2015.

Teacher Convicted For Showing Class Horror Movie
Poltergeist Remake “A Kids’ Movie”
28 Months Later ‘In Discussions’

Picture credits: Northern Lights Films, Icon, Twisted Pictures 

BO Stats: Box Office Mojo