David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows (2014) is destined to be a classic horror film. It’s mesmerizing, chilling, and deeply unsettling. It’s indebted to the horror tradition, yet utterly distinct. On the surface, it’s about the classic equation of horror: sex = death. But underneath, it’s just about death—not violent, bloody, shocking death but death’s slow inexorability.
In its central plot device, It Follows draws from the slasher tradition: you have sex, you die, not at the hands of a knife-wielding monster but in the form of something that acts like a virus. Some “thing” as Hugh (Jake Weary) tells the protagonist, Jay (brilliantly played by Maika Monroe), after he’s passed it on to her, will now follow you: it won’t run; it’ll only walk, but it won’t stop and if it touches you, you’re dead. We see the influence of Gore Verbinski’s The Ring (2002) here. For now Jay has something of an ethical dilemma: does she pass on the fatal “thing”? To whom?