A suitably atmospheric, but direly serious teen thriller, It Follows takes a somewhat goofy premise and cranks it to eleven but never manages to follow through on a lot of promise at the outset.
After making love to her new boyfriend for the first time, nineteen year old Jay (Maika Monroe, great here and also in TIFF title The Guest) finds herself stalked by a slow moving, smart, and deadly shape-shifting presence that no one else around her can see. The only way to get rid of it: sleep with someone else immediately and hope they pass it on since it will continue moving backwards through its previous prey.
A play on the abstinence narratives that cropped up in slasher films of the 1980s, writer and director David Robert Mitchell’s film owes a lot to early Cronenberg. Only unlike Cronenberg, there’s decidedly less humour and satire. The film starts fully cranked to eleven with a gorgeously shot opening sequence, but as the film goes on it becomes an exercise of style over substance and brooding over actual scares or thoughtful points about coming of age. It’s more concerned with overusing its admittedly great synth score than letting the audience sympathize with the characters.
It seems like it’s going somewhere, but it’s oddly empty despite its gorgeous packaging. It has ambitious designs, but it’s really just a silly movie told in a stoically po-faced fashion with nary any levity or original subtext in sight. (Andrew Parker)
Sunday, September 7th, 11:59pm, Ryerson Theatre
Tuesday, September 9th, 4:00pm, Scotiabank 9