I stopped being scared or creeped out by horror movies about 20 years ago, but when Carla and I watched It Follows on Saturday night we were both freaked out of our wits.
The premise is simple. If you have sex with a cursed person, a monster will begin walking slowly in your direction. The monster can take on the form of a stranger or someone you know. When the monster reaches you, it will kill you in a horrible way. You can run or drive away from the monster, but it knows where you are and will start walking towards you. To rid yourself of the curse, you need to have sex with another person. The monster will target them. If it kills that person, it will then come after you.
Lenika Cruz of The Atlantic says the monster of It Follows is "one of the scariest antagonists in recent cinematic history," because we don't know anything about it.
But what's most satisfying about It Follows is how its monster manages to inspire such slow-burn terror when it spends 90 percent of the film doing something decidedly un-scary: walking slowly, often out of frame. Even the absence of the linearly traveling, unrelenting "it" is no relief: The anticipation of its arrival slowly and brutally wears the audience down, like death by a billion spoon thwacks. It's hard to know what to call the thing at the center of It Follows—a spirit? A monster? A villain? Is it even really evil or just a human embodiment of inhuman malevolence? As the director, Mitchell, has said: "There's no logic to it—you can't really explain a nightmare."
The inclination of horror movies to explain and profile the dark force as much as possible often results in a didacticism that doesn't translate well onscreen. Just think of how many films feature a haggard, wide-eyed protagonist poring through old texts, newspaper clippings, or Internet searches, or tracking down old victims in hopes of finding an answer. The process of the investigation itself can be spooky. The little girl was pushed into the well by her mom? Shudder. Rather than cultivating fear in the gradual, deliberate reveal of gruesome details, It Follows' thrust comes instead from training the audience to recoil from the shadowy, blurry figure on the horizon, behind the characters, without fanfare or warning.
Another other big reason this movie was so terrifying is the ominous chiptune soundtrack by Disasterpiece. Listen to it here.