ⓘ It Follows
It Follows is a 2014 American supernatural psychological horror film written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, and starring Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, and Lili Sepe. The film follows a teenage girl named Jay, who is pursued by a supernatural entity after a sexual encounter.
The film debuted at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, and was later purchased by RADiUS-TWC for distribution. After a successful limited release beginning on March 13, 2015, the film had a wide release on March 27, 2015. It received critical acclaim and grossed $23.3 million worldwide.
In Detroit, a young girl flees to sit by herself on the beach after escaping from a house, suspecting she is being chased by an unknown threat. She is found gruesomely dead the next morning.
Oakland University student Jay goes on a date with her new boyfriend, Hugh. At the movies, Hugh points out a girl whom Jay says she cannot see. Afraid, he asks that they leave.
On another date, Hugh and Jay have sex in his car, but afterward he incapacitates Jay with chloroform, and she wakes up tied to a wheelchair in the Packard Plant, where Hugh explains that she will be pursued by an entity that only they can see and that it can take the appearance of any person. If it catches Jay, it will kill her and pursue the previous person to have passed it on: Hugh. After they see a naked woman walking toward them, Hugh drives Jay home and flees. The next day, the police cannot find the naked woman or Hugh, who was living under a false identity.
At school, Jay sees an old woman in a hospital gown walking towards her, invisible to others. Jays sister Kelly and her friends, Paul and Yara, agree to help and spend the night in Jay and Kellys house. That night someone smashes the kitchen window; Paul investigates but sees no one. Inside the house, Jay sees a disheveled, urinating, half-naked woman walking toward her and runs upstairs to the others, who cannot see the entity. When a tall man, seemingly with no eyes, enters the bedroom, Jay flees the house. Her friends catch up to her at a nearby playground.
With the help of their neighbor, Greg, the group discovers Hughs real name, Jeff Redmond, and trace him to his address. Jeffs mom answers the door, and Jay realizes that the naked woman she had seen coming for her in the Packard Plant was in the form of Mrs. Redmond. Jeff explains that the entity began pursuing him after a one-night stand and that Jay can pass it on by having sex with someone else.
Greg drives Jay, Kelly, Yara, and Paul to his familys lake house, and teaches Jay to shoot a revolver. The entity arrives in the form of Yara and attacks Jay on the lakefront. Jays friends ward it off by breaking a chair over its body, and Jay shoots it in the head, but it recovers unharmed and attacks Jay again, taking the form of a boy who lives next door to Jay. Jay flees in Gregs car, crashes into a cornfield, and wakes up in a hospital with a broken arm.
Greg has sex with Jay in the hospital, as he does not believe the entity exists. Days later, Jay sees the entity in the form of Greg walking towards Gregs house. It smashes a window at Gregs house and enters. Jay tries to warn the real Greg by telephone, but he does not answer. She runs into the house and finds the entity in the form of Gregs half-naked mother knocking on his door before it jumps on Greg. Jay sees the entity having sex with a dead Greg, then Jay flees by car and spends the night outdoors.
On a beach, Jay sees three young men on a boat. She then undresses and walks into the water. Back home, Jay refuses Pauls offer of sex.
The group plans to kill the entity by luring it into a swimming pool and dropping electrical devices into the water. Jay, waiting in the pool, spots the entity and realizes it has taken the appearance of her father. Instead of entering the pool, it throws the devices at her. Firing at an invisible target, Paul accidentally wounds Yara but shoots the entity in the head, causing it to fall into the pool. As it pulls Jay underwater, Paul shoots it again, and Jay escapes. Paul asks Jay if the entity is dead. Jay approaches the pool and sees it filling with blood.
Jay and Paul have sex. Afterward, Paul drives past prostitutes in a seedy part of town. Later, Jay and Paul walk down the street holding hands. A figure walks behind them.
2. Development and production
Writer and director David Robert Mitchell conceived the film based on recurring dreams he had in his youth about being followed: "I didnt use those images for the film, but the basic idea and the feeling I used. From what I understand, its an anxiety dream. Whatever I was going through at that time, my parents divorced when I was around that age, so I imagine it was something to do with that." The role that sexual transmission plays came later, from Mitchells desire for something that could transfer between people. Mitchell started writing the film in 2011 while working on a separate film he intended to be his second feature film; however, Mitchell struggled with this would-be second feature and made It Follows as his next film instead. Mitchell realized that the concept he was working on was tough to describe and thus refused to discuss the plot when asked what he was working on, reasoning later, "When you say it out loud, it sounds like the worst thing ever."
The film was shot in 2013 in Detroit, Michigan. Mitchell used wide-angle lenses when filming to give the film an expansive look, and cited the works of George Romero and John Carpenter as influences on the films compositions and visual aesthetic.
The films monster, shot composition, and overall aesthetic were influenced by the work of contemporary photographer Gregory Crewdson. Director of photography Mike Gioulakis said: "Were both big fans of the still photographer Gregory Crewdson and David had him in his look book from day one. photographs have the same kind of surreal suburban imagery that we wanted for It Follows."
It Follows has sparked numerous interpretations from film critics in regard to the source of "it" and the films symbolism. Critics have interpreted the film as a parable about HIV/AIDS, other sexually transmitted infections, and the social perceptions thereof; the sexual revolution; and "primal anxieties" about intimacy.
Mitchell stated: "Im not personally that interested in where it comes from. To me, its dream logic in the sense that theyre in a nightmare, and when youre in a nightmare theres no solving the nightmare. Even if you try to solve it." Mitchell said that while Jay "opens herself up to danger through sex, sex is the one way in which she can free herself from that danger. Were all here for a limited amount of time, and we cant escape our mortality. but love and sex are two ways in which we can – at least temporarily – push death away".
The score was composed by Rich Vreeland, better known as Disasterpeace. It was released on February 2, 2015 over Editions Milan Music with permission of The Weinstein Company with a digital booklet. The digital version of the album went on sale March 10, 2015.
It Follows premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival on May 17, 2014. It was released theatrically in France on February 4, 2015, and in the United Kingdom on February 27. It was given a limited release in the United States on March 13 and a wide release on March 27 in 1.200 theaters. The film also received a limited release on March 27, 2015, in Canada by Mongrel Media.
6.1. Reception Box office
It Follows earned $163.453 in its opening weekend from four theaters at an average of $40.863 per theater, making it the best limited opening for a film released in the United States and Canada in 2015. The film made its international debut in the United Kingdom on February 27, 2015, where it earned $573.290 £371.142 on 190 screens for the #8 position. The following week, the film dropped two spots to #10 with a weekend gross of $346.005 £229.927 from 240 screens.
The film had a domestic gross of $14.7 million and an international gross of $8.6 million for a worldwide total of $23.3 million.
6.2. Reception Critical response
It Follows received critical acclaim. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, it holds a 96% approval rating and a rating average score of 8.07/10, based on 253 reviews. The critical consensus states: "Smart, original, and above all terrifying, It Follows is the rare modern horror film that works on multiple levels – and leaves a lingering sting." On review aggregator website Metacritic, the film has an average rating of 83 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "universal acclaim". On Rotten Tomatoes aggregation, it was ranked as the sixth most-praised film of the year.
Peter Debruge of Variety gave an overall positive review, saying: "Starting off strong before losing its way in the end, this stylish, suspenseful chiller should significantly broaden Mitchells audience without disappointing his early supporters in the slightest." David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter said, "Creepy, suspenseful and sustained, this skillfully made lo-fi horror movie plays knowingly with genre tropes and yet never winks at the audience, giving it a refreshing face-value earnestness that makes it all the more gripping." Tim Robey of The Daily Telegraph gave the film five out of five stars and said, "With its marvellously suggestive title and thought-provoking exploration of sex, this indie chiller is a contemporary horror fans dream come true." Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club said, "Despite all the fun-to-unpack ideas swirling around Mitchells premise, this is first and foremost a showcase for his considerable talents as a widescreen visual stylist, which are most apparent in the movies deftly choreographed, virtuoso 360 degree pans." Mike Pereira of Bloody Disgusting described the film as a "creepy, mesmerizing exercise in minimalist horror" and labelled it "a classical horror masterpiece". Michael Nordine of Vice named It Follows as "the best horror film in years", and critic Mark Frauenfelder called it "the best horror film in over a decade".
7. Possible sequel
Following the films success, Radius-TWC co-president Tom Quinn announced that the studio is looking into a possible sequel. Quinn has expressed the idea of flipping the concept of the first film around, with Maika Monroes Jay or another protagonist going down the chain to find the origin of "it".