A multi-layered, multi-faceted horror story that stays with you
It Follows Film Review
“It could look like someone you know or it could be a stranger in a crowd. Whatever helps it get close to you.”Every once in a while a film will come along, often out of the blue, that really shakes you up and reminds you how powerful the medium of film can be if done correctly. It Follows is just such film. It was written and directed by near first-time director David Robert Mitchell, on a shoestring budget without any big name actors and from an idea based on one of his own dreams. The film does everything right in terms of framing, lighting, pacing, sound design and score to create an air of horror and mystery that is utterly compelling and downright terrifying. The one sentence plot is ludicrously simple and when written down sound ridiculous: after having sex a young girl is followed by a supernatural entity that wants to kill her. However Mitchell layers his film with plenty of different elements.There's the dream like quality, the ‘no-where’ place, the ‘no-where’ time, the parental issues, sexually transmitted disease, promiscuity, circular motifs etc. The film is so rich with themes and ideas that it transcends ‘horror’ and as such stays with you long after the credits have rolled. The fact is that the film is universally creepy, so it really, genuinely, gets under your skin, making it so compelling. Framed in such a way that anyone can be ‘It’ and you find yourself constantly looking over the shoulders of the characters to see what is coming, draws you into the film and the plight of the protagonists. Could you, yourself be ‘It’ following them wherever they go? Heady ideas and a wonderfully enigmatic conclusion top off what must be the horror film of the year so far.
Picture QualityThe disc presents a theatrically correct widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1, with a1080p/24 transfer using the AVC codec and is region locked to B.
Shot digitally the image is absolutely stunning throughout; detail is sublime from close up skin texture to the distant decay of the collapsing buildings. The sand on the beaches looks tangible enough to run your toes through, while the grime and filth of the house where one character hides out looks grubby enough to get under your fingernails. Shots looking down the suburban streets are picture perfect, the trees overhang and have no missing features due to digital artefacting, clipping or crush; grass is clean and well defined as is the tarmac of the roads. Top notch.
Shot digitally the image is absolutely stunning throughout
Colouring, too, is excellent with all the primaries coming across with gusto, reds are nicely bold (check out the swimming pool!) while greens are lush (parkland areas, or the vegetation near the beaches) while the blues are cool and grade extremely well. The pallet errs towards the drab side, but that doesn’t mean that colours are muted, on the contrary they are quite vivid and strong, with no hint of wash or bleed.
Brightness and contrast are set to give astonishing blacks, deep and very foreboding adding tremendous punch and depth to the frame. Shadow detail can be strong when required, inside the dark corridors of the houses for example, but also the blacks can be pitch when required – adding significant scare tactics as you cannot see what’s lurking there! Whites too never clip, and all detail maintains itself throughout the image.
Digitally there are no compression issues, no banding, no edge enhancement or posterization. The image is a clean as a whistle.
Sound QualityWe went with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround track, and just like the picture this is an absolute cracker! The creepy nature of the film demands an eclectic, dark and precise sound scape and that is just what the track has been given. Right from the jump scare stingers, to the ambient creaking and foreboding sounds; you are totally immersed in the sound scape to the exclusion of all else. The surround are frequently used to add ambience, but come to the fore with the many 360 degree camera rotations.
Dialogue is clean, precise, sounds very natural and held in the frontal array never missing a beat. Bass is tremendous with some sub-sonics reaching subterranean levels; the score is the main culprit though thunder, gun shots and other effects are also enhanced well. Talking of the score, Disasterpeace goes all out to ramp up the creep level; sounding like a cross between John Carpenter and Vangelis as well as hints of Forbidden Planet, it really adds to the overall tone of the film adding a huge amount to the visuals – but it’s bass level (tight, controlled and deep) is simply awesome.
ExtrasInterview with Composer Disasterpeace – A brief interview with the man responsible for the awesome score, his likes, his past work and how he got involved with the film are all discussed.
Audio Commentary – With Danny Leigh and Mark Jancovich, neither of whom worked on the film but rather, Danny is a writer and journalist while Mark is Professor of Film and TV studies at University of East Anglia and between them they discuss the film’s themes, ideas, set up and execution in the wider scope of the horror genre. Very interesting take and rarely do commentaries go into so many aspects – useless you want to actually find out about the film's production of course.
It Follows Blu-ray VerdictIt Follows is a modern day horror film from newcomer David Robert Mitchell, based on a childhood dream and filmed with a very low budget, but huge ideas. By drawing inspiration from classic horror stories of the past and adding in his own flair, Mitchel has crafted a horror film that is very rare – one that is not only terrifying, but one that stays with you long after the credits have rolled. The basic premise is very simple, and indeed, sounds ridiculous: after having sex a young girl is followed by a supernatural entity that wants to kill her.
However, where the film wins out is with is style; the framing is very ‘over the shoulder’ so you are constantly drawn into the picture looking for ‘It’. The pacing is very deliberate, building up tension all the way. The characters are very real, even though they live in a dream like landscape; they exist in ‘no-time’ i.e. there is no definite time period, they exist in ‘no-place’; anywhere suburbia USA downtown from a decaying city. The sound design has you constantly on edge, looking over your shoulder for ‘It’ when there is the slightest crackle. And the score, oh the score from Disasterpeace is at once reminiscent of classic horror films whilst maintaining a modern stance, complimenting the on screen action and adding a tremendous amount to the finished product.
It Follows is a tremendous film, a multi-layered, multi-faceted horror that exists on many planes. Whilst there is plenty to read into the piece there is one underlying factor: it is incredibly unnerving, becoming ever creepier as you watch until you are left terrified long after the film has ended.
Look behind you... ‘It’ has followed you home.
As a Blu-ray package Icon have released a decent enough set and the picture is stunning, with absolute detail, excellent colour reproduction and sublime black levels. The surround sound design is also reference all the way, the effects, bass and environment are terrific. The extras package is a little light, though the audio commentary is unusual in its take, making is a worthwhile listen. However the whole package comes highly recommended as the film is destined for cult status.
You can buy It Follows on Blu-ray here
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