The best horror films of the 21st century? You can’t go past It Follows – The Guardian

If you are casting about for a movie to watch this Halloween, you have to watch – or rewatch – It Follows, which is heart-racing perfection
The central idea of It Follows is simplicity itself: a creature stalks you slowly, relentlessly, with no obvious motive other than to “get” you. It feels like the basis of a playground game. And yet, combined with the deadly consequences, and executed to heart-racing perfection by writer and director David Robert Mitchell, It Follows is 100 minutes of heebie-jeebies.
Jay (Maika Monroe) goes on a seemingly pleasant date with her new boyfriend, Hugh (Jake Weary). But after they have sex, Jay discovers she is being stalked by a terrifying and homicidal entity. There are a set of rules that, if she can follow them, might just keep her alive.
The creature can appear to its victims as almost anyone, but can only be seen by those it follows. Although unrelenting and single-minded, it travels at a walking pace. The victim can pass on the “curse” by having sex with someone else, so they will be targeted instead. And if the shambling fiend catches up to its quarry it will kill them, before turning its attention back to the previous person in the chain.
Naturally, Jay does not take the warning seriously at first, but she quickly discovers her pursuer is very real. With the help of her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and friends Paul (Keir Gilchrist), Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and Greg (Daniel Zovatto), they flee in the hope of tracking down Hugh, who has disappeared, and discovering more about the mysterious creature.
Things are kept believable by Monroe’s strong performance as Jay, as well as those of her friendship group. They rally around Jay the moment they realise something is wrong, meaning she never descends into the hysterical fear that results in bad choices. Instead, the group’s unwavering support takes them on a journey of logical and clear detective work.
Although It Follows feels fresh and full of its own ideas, it knows its roots are in genre classics. Comparisons to Halloween are inevitable, given how it worms its way under your skin like John Carpenter’s masterpiece. It Follows leaves the audience forever vigilant, constantly watching the edges of the screen for suspicious background activity, asthe camera pans around an autumnal, leaf-strewn suburbia that could easily be Michael Myers’ Haddonfield stomping ground.
It Follows hits those classic slasher beats too: teens are punished for having sex and face an unstoppable adversary. We share Jay’s fear that every person is a danger, never knowing if someone is who they appear to be – unless her friends can see them, too. This fear of the unknown gets right to the core of why It Follows is so effective, but it also means any potential future attempts to make an It Follows origin story would undermine everything that makes it great.
The atmosphere is heightened by the incredible score, composed by Disasterpeace, AKA Rich Vreeland. It’s a malevolent, abrasive mix of anxious drones and nervy melody; an integral piece of the puzzle, as it drags serrated synth tones across your skull, and puts the tension on a rolling boil.
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With the entity trudging inexorably onward, It Follows taps into the lumbering terror of the zombie movie. It’s hard not to feel the same pangs of unease, as when you first got flustered watching George A Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. We’re given a monster that is easy to outsmart, but impossible to withstand – you can run away, but you can’t run for ever.
This bleeds into the general feeling of helplessness that seeds much of the horror in It Follows. The entity is unstoppable in the sense that it is perpetually on the move, but also in the realisation that all attempts to thwart it are temporary. Even if Jay and the other living victims continue to coitally “pay it forward”, logic dictates that, at some point, the creature will work its way back down the list. It’s a strolling manifestation of existential anxiety, and ultimately, a chilling reminder of our own demise.
It Follows is one of the best and most original horror movies of the 21st century so far, sharing common ground with the genre greats while still contributing plenty of its own. It’s tense, suspenseful and unsettling, so it makes for the perfect spooky season viewing. Just please, don’t make a sequel.

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