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Something wicked this way walks

Writer/director David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows is being touted as a new classic in screen horror, a genre whose fans tend to be more accommodating than others. Saw (2004) and Insidious (2010) were considered likewise, and look what happened – they became full-fledged franchises checkered with inferior sequels. On the other hand, last year’s The Babadook fully earned its status.

That’s not to say It Follows isn’t without interest. Mitchell has clearly picked up some pointers from chiller legends John Carpenter, Wes Craven, George A. Romero and even ‘40s producer Val Lewton. Yet the film is so steeped in its surface trappings, which are sometimes quite effectively and efficiently rendered, that the story and the characters inhabiting it come off as a secondary consideration. (Again, this too is something of a trademark in horror films.)

The story focuses on Jay (Maika Monroe), an all-American suburban teenager who indulges, so to speak, in a one-night stand that leaves her in an accursed quandary: An evil spirit has been “passed on” to her, one that can take any form and will kill her unless she passes it along by having sex with someone else.

Despite the sketchy mythology it creates for itself, It Follows is rife with metaphors about sexuality and teen angst. There’s an appropriately moody atmosphere and couple of sudden jolts, but the film is woozily paced and overstays its welcome. Monroe has an effortless charisma and subtle allure, but her endangered friends are forgettable teen archetypes. The blaring, oppressive score is credited to Disasterpeace, which perhaps speaks for itself.

It Follows is, in certain respects, something a little different in the genre, for which it earns a little respect, but the recent announcement that a sequel is being considered is the same-old, same-old Hollywood thinking. More of the same. Or, more likely, more of the same – only less. !

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