Midnight Madness Report: It Follows
If there’s one thing TIFF’s Midnight Madness program excels at, it’s crazy, over-the-top genre glee. But sometimes a slow-burning indie chiller comes along that scares the living crap out of you, ruining any chance of a good night’s sleep.
That’s exactly what David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows did to me at a recent late-night press screening. I was genuinely spooked on my walk home and well into the night, and here are four reasons why.
It’ll ruin your sex life
Since the beginning of slashers, sex has been a surefire way to get killed off. It Follows takes this golden rule a few steps further by making the killer a sexually transmitted demon. Without giving away too much (the less you know, the better), once you have sex with someone who’s cursed, you’re the target until you sleep with someone else. Or die, in which case whoever gave it to you is back on the chopping block. Sounds weird, but it totally works.
Its villain has many faces
Unlike Michael Meyers or Jason Vorhees, this stalker can take the form of a complete stranger or even someone close to you. All you know is you’re in its sights, it’s slowly walking towards you, and no one else can see it. And man, It Follows does a bang-up job of using a wide range of eerie people as the ever-changing killer. You don’t realize what’s after you until you’re just a few seconds away from too late.
It oozes atmosphere
Shot in and around Detroit, It Follows takes full visceral advantage of abandoned playgrounds, dimly-lit streets, creaky movie theatres, dilapidated houses, and deserted beaches. These backdrops have been used before, but cinematographer Michael Gioulakis’ voyeuristic long takes offer a fresh sense of alienation and menace, going all the way back to horror’s low-key roots in John Carpenter’s seminal 1978 slasher, Halloween.
It has a killer score
Speaking of Halloween, It Follows contains a hair-raising, Carpenter-esque electronic score by Disasterpeace, who apparently only worked on video games prior to this. Totally rad and totally freaky, like Jaws and Halloween, the music feels like an essential character in the film. It’ll follow you home and keep you up all night long, just like it did to me.