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    Review: ‘It Follows’: Sexually transmitted death

    Northern+Lights+Films

    Northern Lights Films

    The only protection from this deadly sexually transmitted affliction is to have more sex. Minus some minor flaws in story, the fresh concept of “It Follows” creates a stifling level of tension that does not relent.

    Jay (Maika Monroe) is a teenage girl, and she’s a little anxious about going further with her new beau. However, in the back of a car one night, the two of them have consensual sex. Then, Hugh (Jake Weary) suffocates Jay with a rag soaked in chloroform, and she wakes up strapped to a wheelchair.

    Hugh begins spouting what sounds like nonsense if not for the authentic terror in his voice. He informs Jay that he has passed onto her a deadly curse.

    “It” will follow her around, slowly, but surely. No matter where she’s at, it is always moving toward her. It can take the form of friend, family or stranger, and the only way to get rid of it is to pass it along (read: have more sex). Even if she rids herself of it, if the person she passed it to doesn’t pass it on before they’re killed, the curse goes back down the line.

    What do all of these things result in? Complete and total paranoia for both Jay and the audience. “It” is easy enough to spot, since the person it’s manifested itself as usually moves at a lumbering pace — but it can show up anywhere, and it will. There’s no safe haven, no reprieve in tension. It doesn’t help that Jay is in no rush to pass it along to the next poor soul, either.

    Director David Robert Mitchell introduces this evil and paranoia into a world well defined, yet impossible to place. The film was shot in Detroit, yet the atmosphere is palpably ambiguous, removed from a specific time and place. The sleepy suburb that Jay and her friends live in is perpetually overcast. This seclusion away from city life, accompanied by the old-school cars that everyone drives, creates the sense of a place still living in the past.

    Adding to this is the wonderful, synthy soundtrack from artist Disasterpeace, which, from the airy, serene “Jay” to the terrifying, hard-hitting “Heels,” sounds exactly like a video game from the late 1990s, Nintendo 64/PlayStation era.

    However, there are some modern-day anachronisms. Characters have cell phones, and one girl even has a futuristic folding, double-screened e-reader shaped like a seashell. It all feels like a dream that quickly turns into a nightmare.

    These locales are primarily filmed with wide-angle lenses, opening up the landscapes, and opening Jay up to vulnerability. “It” can come from all angles, and Mitchell and cinematographer Mike Gioulakis spatially place our protagonist right in the middle of them all. Is that figure in the background slowly making its way toward her just a regular person, or something more sinister?

    There are some logic-based questions regarding the plot that are not answered. “It” sometimes takes the form of people very close to Jay, and sometimes it’s a random stranger. It never really raises any questions until, at the film’s climax, “It” takes the form of Jay’s absent father. This raises questions that should be addressed.

    The ending is also rather unsatisfying. The only change from Jay and her now-boyfriend Paul (Keir Gilchrist), who originally started off as a close friend, is that they now accept their plight and will take the future in stride. It underwhelms, given the overwhelming terror that has just previously occurred.

    Despite this, “It Follows” is enjoyable and tense.

    Grade: B+

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    Follow Alex Guyton on Twitter.

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