It Follows (2014)

I avoided watching It Follows because the idea was so unsettling. Like most unpleasant things avoided, the reality was nothing like as bad as I imagined. It’s actually genius — a really great film. Not flawless, but an impressive mix of original ideas embedded in an extended homage to John Carpenter’s Halloween.

The characters are all on the cusp of adulthood, with the adults barely a presence in the film at all. Jay, the lead character, has sex with her new boyfriend and finds out he has passed on to her a curse that she can only get rid of by having sex with someone else. Once you have it, a dead person that only you can see is always walking towards you, every hour of every day. The shape-shifting, visible only to the cursed, but physically very real zombie people are all frightening in different ways. They are all ages, shapes and sizes, but always clearly dead, and often gross in some way.

The cinematography is wonderful, with lots of slow tracking shots, wide-angle views of urban and suburban Detroit, and spaces left for the viewer to look into. You are always searching to see where the It is going to come lumbering from next. The soundtrack is inspired by John Carpenter’s synth scores and serves the mood perfectly, changing gear as the story moves from the brooding, despairing wait for It to turn up, to the horror of trying to escape It when it eventually does.

Who knew a single zombie walking very slowly could be so scary?