HORROR; 1hr 40min
STARRING: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccadi, Lili Sepe, Daniel Zovatto
Voodoo dolls: Monroe (foreground, with Sepe)
Ominous is a challenging mood to pin down on film. Labour the point and it’s more shlock than shock. Shade it in smoothly, as The Myth of the American Sleepover writer-director David Robert Mitchell does with It Follows, and the slow skin-crawl is John Carpenter–calibre oppressive.
In the bell jar of Mitchell’s matte-textured, suburban Detroit, horror evolves as a paradox of specific and diffuse. After 19-year-old Jay (Monroe) has what seems to be harmless sex (with an anything-but Weary), she’s haunted by homicidal undead who know no boundaries. Her slim hope of survival is to hook up with some other poor sap and pass the curse on to them.
The manifesting phantoms — all ages, both sexes, all malevolent — are everywhere, moving with the unhurried deliberation of fixated intent, invisible to a terrified Jay’s baffled sister (Sepe) and friends (Gilchrist, Luccadi and Zovatto), who are trying, vainly, to help. It’s the ultimate imprisonment of isolation: the stone-cold stalking is a neatly calculated nerve-shredder while waiting for the blows to strike is a torment in itself.