“It Follows” is the best horror film in years and the rare one worthy of awards

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When it comes to the Academy, the genre the least seem to embrace (give or take animation, though that at least has its own category) is horror. With the exception of The Silence of the Lambs, no fright flick has been nominated for Best Picture, and while that’s not going to change, periodically we get such top notch entries into the genre that awards consideration is warranted. A few years back, it was The Cabin in the Woods that got a small Best Original Screenplay push, while more recently The Babadook and You’re Next drummed up a bit of buzz. This year though, we have the best of the bunch (or at least the best since The Cabin in the Woods) with It Follows. The film opens this weekend after playing at the Cannes Film Festival last year and is easily the best of 2015 to date…not just in terms of horror either. It’s the best release of the year so far, overall.

In case you don’t know, It Follows is a hybrid character study/coming of age tale/horror film. Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, it tells the story of a 19 year old girl named Jay (played wonderfully by Maika Monroe) who sees a sexual encounter lead to terror. After sleeping with her new boyfriend for the first time, he basically kidnaps her in order to safely inform her of what he’s passed on to her. Until they had sex, he was plagued by something monstrous following him slowly wherever he went. It started when he slept with someone on a one night stand, and now that he’s given it to her, he’s free from its clutches. Jay is warned that if it catches you, you die. Worse yet, it’ll take the form of people you know in order to get close to you. After he lets her go and runs off, she groups up with her friends, neighbor, and sister to figure out if there’s any way to survive. Monroe is the undisputed star, but the cast has some solid supporting players, including Keir Gilchrist. Besides Monroe, you’ll be blown away by Mitchell’s work, especially when it pairs with the cinematography by Mike Gioulakis and the score from Rich Vreeland.

While any Oscar attention is a long shot, I believe that this flick is truly worthy of consideration in a number of categories. Beyond the fruitless endeavor of pushing it for a Best Picture, Best Actress, or Best Original Screenplay nomination (which I’ll still do), the technical work is so good that it bears remembering. While I doubt voters would go for It Follows in Best Original Score, I do believe that it can at least hang around for a while in Best Cinematography. The long shots and widescreen compositions are magnificent, creating easily the most beautiful horror film that I can ever remember seeing. High praise indeed, but worth it.

Realistically, the movie isn’t going to get noticed by the Academy. It does, however, have a good shot at really catching on with a few of the precursors. We’re a long way off from all of that, but I expect the Gotham Awards and especially the Independent Spirit Awards to take notice of It Follows. Particularly for the latter, nominations in Best Feature, Best Female Lead, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography, and Best Editing could truly be in the cards. In fact, I’d be surprised (along with incredibly disappointed) if it was snubbed completely over the course of the year. Again, this played at Cannes, so you know there’s a pedigree to start off with.

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It Follows deserves to be seen. The film opens on Friday and should immediately become a must see for you all. Mitchell is a filmmaker on the rise, Monroe is an actress on her way towards the A list, and genre fans should be overjoyed by the quality of this outing. Beyond them, however, this is just a beautiful and disturbing piece of art that cinema in March has been yearning for. I fully expect It Follows to remain on my Top Ten list for the rest of the year. It should wind up as one of my favorites of 2015 when all is said and done…it’s that good.

Be sure to check out It Follows when it begins its theatrical run this weekend!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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