Blight frosts pensive, diabolical “It Follows”

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“It Follows” follows the modern horror movie formula as surely as an unwanted pregnancy or an STD follows teenage sex in the real world. There’s a high school-age virgin, a group of freaked out friends, no apparent adult supervision and an other-worldly force stalking them that plays by its own set of rules.

itfollowsAnd sex is the trigger.

It begins as a curse passed on during intercourse like a game of tag, as if following an epidemic transmission model. Only the person cursed can see the force that pursues them afterward.

“Somebody gave it to me,” says a boy after sex with the heroine, played by Maika Monroe. “And I passed it on to you.”

The force, which assumes the shape of random people,  is “very slow but it’s not dumb.” And if the infected person is killed the curse reverts back to the person that gave it to them. Final warning: “Don’t let it touch you.”

We see the result of contact in an opening scene. While “It Follows” takes a while to establish its parameters, it is pensive throughout. A pulsating  industrial soundtrack heightens the anxiety.

Perhaps because it was shot in suburban Detroit where abandoned houses leer, a pervasive sense of blight frosts the production like mold.

Director David Robert Mitchell turns budgetary limitations into production values – weed filled parking lots, old cars, wall phones, campy horror movies on TV, teenagers playing cards – for a public domain aesthetic. And its this tone as much as anything adds an unsettling quality.

The low cost special effects encourage invention in planning and execution,

Available resources and ambient locations are composed and photographed in such a way that transforms just another horror movie into something a cut above the films it follows.

*** Three stars

With Maika Monroe, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe, Jake Weary, Daniel Sovatto, Keir Gilchrist. Produced by Rebecca Green, David Kaplan, Erik Rommesmo, Laura D. Smith. Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell. Approximate running time 100 minutes. Rated R; violent and sexual content, language, some nudity.

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