A lot of people agree that as a genre, horror is not in good shape. They’re cheap to make, and because of that they always make their money back, and then some. In the eyes of Hollywood, ‘always make money back and then some’ is an automatic green light. When films (and money) get made without questions, quality isn’t much of an issue, and that’s where the problem comes from. Even though there are people (like myself) that get some enjoyment out of most horror films, the general feeling is that they’re terrible, and don’t deserve your money. It’s this feeling that means, when a critically acclaimed horror film comes along, I can’t help but have high expectations.
With films that are as poor as It Follows, it’s hard to know where that acclaim comes from. Much like 2014’s The Babadook, it seemed like all of the early reviews were not just positive, but glowing, and on top of that, these reviews were coming from seemingly hard-core horror fans. So just what did they like about it, or more specifically, what did I not like?
It Follows has something I find not only annoying, but distracting in a film. It tries so hard to be ‘cool’. It’s hard to explain exactly what I mean by that, but there are a few things I can point to. The music was god awful. Irritating ‘retro’ synth music that would be more at home in a bad video game plays loudly throughout. The sets are decorated with chintzy wallpaper and old-fashioned TVs, despite the fact that the film is clearly set in the present day, or even the near future, as there’s one item of technology that’s more advanced than its present day counterpart.
The film also relies heavily on stereotypes. The characters are not just familiar, they’re done to death. The sweet, doesn’t know how good looking she is teenage girl, the male best friend who is madly in love with her, the cool old guy who seems like a douchebag but is really nice underneath, they’re all here, when she should have stayed in the 90’s. What’s worse than any of this, however, is that It Follows thinks it’s better. You can tell from the way it’s made that film makers thought the product they had was superior, and it just comes across as being pretentious. It’s obviously made by people who love old horror films, but don’t know what it is that makes them good, or at least can’t replicate it.
I can’t say I was never afraid or tense during It Follows, because I was. Some of the earlier scenes do work, but that’s about it. The concept of the film is interesting and unique, and could have produced the type of scares that stick with you, but it fell very short whenever it had the chance.
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