|'Mitchell is clearly head over heels for his own style to the point where he just doesn't know when to stop'.|
The latest horror film lauded by many to be the answer to the continually floundering genre's problems, It Follows is a prime example of a good idea executed badly. Having hit upon a simple but effective hybrid of zombie and haunting narrative tropes, writer and director David Robert Mitchell pours on the style by the bucketload in an effort to disguise the ever-waning level of substance his film has to offer.
True, there are elements of Mitchell's execution which, when viewed in isolation, are impressive. The director is unafraid to make some bold choices in terms of camerawork, littering his film with distinctive pans and dollies that ensure It Follows never looks like just another horror film. The problem comes from the fact that Mitchell is clearly head over heels for his own style to the point where he just doesn't know when to stop. For every occasion where the director effectively utilises the camera in an individual way, there's another where it feels distractingly unnecessary. The same thing can be said for Richard "Disasterpeace" Vreeland's synthesised score: a bold and quirky choice, but ultimately one that irks as often as it impresses.
This bothersome feel extends further to the world of It Follows and its inhabitants. Mitchell feels as though he wants his film's setting to come across as both highly realistic and obviously stylised at the same time, perhaps akin to a vivid dream, but this approach never rings true. Instead what we get is an annoying indie-hipster suburbia where nobody watches anything other than vintage movies (both at the cinema and on TV), where teenagers gallingly quote Dostoyevsky whilst reading his work on e-books shaped like make-up compacts, and where the first place the cursed Jay (Maika Monroe) runs to escape the "It" of It Follows' title is the neighbourhood swings. Again, it feels as if Mitchell is simply trying far too hard. What we end up with is a set of adolescent characters all of whom are very hard to warm to, let alone care a great deal about whether or not they become the latest victims of the antagonistic entity.
Mitchell's film isn't a complete failure by any means: the opening act establishes the premise well, and the idea of a slow-walking demonic figure, whilst not all that original, feels effectively set up nonetheless. Unfortunately, the writer and director's own lore supporting his supernatural creation becomes ever more muddled the further into the film he gets, as well as drawing out matters further and further by having his characters display increasingly ignorant or arrogant behaviour. The film's climax feels incredibly thinly drawn, with no reasoning or logic behind it from either the characters within the narrative or Mitchell as external storyteller, concluding It Follows at perhaps its weakest and most poorly executed point of all.
It Follows is currently available through Amazon Instant Video.