“Don’t let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.” — Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot
David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows screened Friday evening at the 2015 Fargo Film Festival, and co-producer Erik Rommestro, a Fargo native, spoke afterwards about securing the rights for a passing reference to Dostoyevsky’s novel about a saintly simpleton. While the Detroit-shot It Follows mirrors the coldness of Prince Myshkin’s Saint-Petersburg, it also mirrors his personality: simple yet unforgettable.
Building off a variety of classic horror themes, It Follows wastes little time getting to the action. A young, scantily clad woman flees from home and winds up in human pretzel form, deceased, on a beach. Only minutes in, It Follows produces a classic horror image, and the Disasterpeace (Rich Vreeland) score has already left an indelible mark. Boom. Credits. Let’s roll.
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Maika Monroe, a former freestyle kiteboarder, stars as Jay; a girl who finds herself strapped to a wheelchair after her boyfriend spooks out after a late night flick. There’s some car sex in between, of course, within a remote area where they could easily be murdered. Director Mitchell offers the usual horror antics, but it’s the pacing, imagery and score that establishes the frightening aura of It Follows. It’s best to see the film cold but know that one can find damsels in distress (Monroe, Lili Sepe, Bailey Spry), an unlucky in love nerd (Keir Gilchrist), the quirky gal (Olivia Luccardi), the overtly cool guy (Jake Weary), the Twilight-cool guy (Daniel Zovatto) and a giant, looming figure.
By excluding grown ups from the narrative, It Follows highlights the perseverance of young adults and their reliance on each other for a shared vision. For example, the innocent looking Paul (Gilchrist) would like to “share” a moment with Jay, but — for that to happen — he needs her to be alive and willing. Also, in order for Jay’s boyfriend, Hugh, to be unfollowed, and not in the social media sense, he must betray his girlfriend yet still convey his affection for her. It’s a dirty game, but they all need each other to survive.
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Director Mitchell works his settings to the fullest, whether it’s the perceived isolation of a beach, a seemingly safe school (360 degree panorama!) or the inevitable, claustrophobic moment of domesticity. It follows — but who? The slow-moving creeps can be seen from a distance, and they also stand fully nude or roof tops. Driven by the gonzo score of Disasterpeace, the cool kids of It Follows learn a thing or two about the perks of pool preparation.
Q.V. Hough (@QVHough) is Vague Visages’ founding editor.