Sunday, March 29, 2015

It Follows (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

It Follows

In David Robert Mitchell's excellent low-key thriller, "It Follows," there is something rotten in Detroit. The film works wonders with so little, using a few sweeps from a gray lens. Simply put, the film is more about mood then jumpy scares, and there are not that many things that go bump in this kind of urban legend tale, but this film accomplishes a lot with mere suggestion coupled with a brief reveal.  By experiencing a jolting score, a slow pan and horrid cues, we are quickly at this director's mercy.

A girl rushes from her house wearing little else but red high heel shoes. She screams in terror, hysterical. Adults ask her the matter but she is unable to speak. She drives to the beach, squats in the sand and calls her father, apologizing in tears.

The next morning her corpse is seen wrenched at crazy angles, her twisted legs becoming a bony Catherine Wheel. The next few scenes put us into a car with a young girl Jay (Maika Monroe) and a square-jawed generic looking Hugh (Jake Weary ) smooching it up. After a hot time, Hugh knocks out Jay with a whiff of chloroform, explaining that he had a virus that is expressed by having entities wishing to assault him, and the only way for him to be free of the virus is to have sex with someone, which in this case is Jay.

As far fetched as the premise may be it works, because like all good horror stories and films, we are in the logic of a dream.

To start with the laser sharp (yet weirdly blurred at lens edge)  cinematography is superb. We are deep within the muddy deserts of Detroit and there is no escape. The depression in this gloomy land is so carefully shot that the derelict and abandoned houses are almost singed with the beauty of a tale by H.P. Lovecraft. There is also a reverence for the films of John Carpenter in the rich shadowy browns and the wild oranges that speak of sinister things on an October day.

Better still, the music is spot on with a jangling score that pays tribute to "Halloween" but also has a David Lynch accent in its staticky industrial interludes.

Things go from bad to worse for the usually blonde and breezy Jay who is dauntlessly pursued by a humanoid shape, a former friend, a dog, or a something which could be anything. She is sequestered in her room while her friends talk of scoring in empty lots grown over with leaves and insects, nearly the only signs of life.

At night, her friends have lethargic sleepovers with neon orange Doritos laid on shawls, knitted mahogany brown. These young adults live in a curious time capsule of the quasi 1970s waiting for a boogeyman that may never appear.

The final knock is scary with a dry smirk to David Lynch in its strobe lighted spooks.

The real effectiveness of "It Follows" resides in its understated ending with Jay and her old friend Paul (Keir Gilchrist) holding hands. Horror is a human condition and it never really vanishes.

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