The film’s main protagonist, Jay, is an attractive, suburban girl, portrayed in a convincing way by Maika Monroe (The Guest), who has a new man in her life, Hugh (Jake Weary), or so she thinks. After several dates, and some advances on Hugh’s part, Jay has sex with him, in his car. Afterward, while Jay is lying on her stomach, on the back seat, talking about dating fantasies she had as a child, Hugh, inexplicably comes up from behind her, and places a chloroformed rag over her face. When Jay wakes up, she is in an abandoned building, tied to a chair. Hugh, assures her that he is not going to hurt her. He lets her know he is sorry that he had to take the actions that he did, but she was his only chance for escape. Escape from what, a viewer might ask at that point. The answer, like the predatory presence that will come and go throughout the film, is ambiguous.
Hugh tells Jay that ever since he had a one night stand with a woman he met in a bar, he has been followed by a malevolent being. The entity, as Jay will soon find out, has the ability to take on the appearance of anyone, even a person someone loves, and would have no reason to fear. According to Hugh, the only way he could try and rid himself of the vile presence that is stalking him, was to have sex with Jay. He in turn, explains, that she will need to have sex with someone else and that, hopefully, in time, the sexually transmitted evil, will be far enough removed from both of them that it will no longer seek to do either of them harm. Before Hugh unties Jay and takes her home, where he literally drops her off on her front lawn, he shows her that what he is telling her aren’t the ravings of a lunatic. Hugh allows Jay to see the destructive presence, first hand, as it comes toward them.
In addition to the aforementioned, not much is known about the malicious being. Only a victim can see who is coming after them. One minute, the evil force can be an old woman (Ingrid Mortimer), in a nightgown, the next it can be a very tall man (Mike Lanier). Additionally, while the predator moves at a slow pace, and doesn’t speak, it is not stupid; once it catches its prey, it will kill whoever that may be, in a gruesome manner. Although, the actual killing is not shown, in the teaser clip at the start of the film, the viewer sees just what sort of damage the evil can inflict on someone. In that instance it killed and disfigured, a young girl (Bailey Spry), who didn’t pass it on in time.
After giving a statement to the police, Jay is taken to the hospital to be examined. When she is released, she attempts to return to the normalcy of her life. She attends class at a local college, but while looking out the window, as her teacher (Linda Boston), reads the poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot, she spots her first sighting of the evil coming for her. She gathers her books and hurriedly leaves the classroom, as the teacher calls after her. Once in the hallway, she gives herself a test to see if she is imagining things, and calls hello to two girls she had just passed without saying a word. The creature moves between the girls, who take no notice of it.
Jay tells her sister, Kelly (Lili Sepe), and her friends Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and Paul (Keir Gilchrist), about why Hugh really acted the way he did. In addition, the friends are aided by Greg (Daniel Zovatto), who live across the street from Jay and Kelly, and one evening, witnesses Jay fleeing from her home in terror. She is running from the evil presence. Her friends, don’t believe in the validity of Jay’s story, but nonetheless, they stick by her. In fact, they help her search for Hugh, who isn’t Hugh at all, but a guy named Jeff. Jay had never been to his place, because he claimed he was embarrassed by where he lived. As Jay and her friends will learn, he lied about that as well. The group goes in search of Jeff in order to learn more about what is tormenting Jay. Her sister and her friends want to hear for themselves what he has to say on the subject.
Will Jay and her friends catch up with Jeff? What will he have to say for himself? Is he still alive? Has the predatory presence done away with him, leaving Jay and her friends with more questions than answers? Is having sex and passing it on to another unwilling victim, the only way to keep it from killing someone? Will Jay pass it on in time, or does her interest in the guy she was dating, lead to her undoing? Every one of those questions will be answered upon a viewer finishing the movie.
“It Follows” was written and directed by David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American Sleepover). The thought provoking, stylish, and unsettling film is parts horror and thriller. The 100 minute movie premiered on May 17, 2014, in France, at the Cannes Film Festival. The film, for the most part is devoid of gore and blood. Instead, the director chose to focus on tension, mood, and atmosphere, and succeeds in respect to all three. Highlights of the film which help to heighten the suspense include the cinematography done by Mike Gioulakis. In addition, the gripping score composed by Rich Vreeland, who is billed as Disasterpeace, comes across as retro to the ear, but in no way dated. It effectively serves to enhance what is being shown on the screen. The film is not for everyone. I have read other reviews about the movie that have been glowing with praise, while some others trashed it as a boring, waste of time. Those of you who like your horror more psychological than scary, should find it enjoyable.