'It Follows' Is One Of The Scariest Horror Films In Years

Editor's Note: This review originally ran during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. We're rerunning it now that It Follows is in limited release. 

Sometimes, the scariest thing isn't what's around the corner. It's what's right in front of you. In It Follows, writer director David Robert Mitchell has created a simple, perfect, and bone-chillingly terrifying horror conceit that doesn't need blood or jump scares. It doesn't even, necessarily, need special effects. In It Follows a normal person, walking, is enough to scare the living crap out of you.

Below, read our It Follows review which will tell you why it's one of the scariest horror films in years.

The Curse

It Follows follows in the mold of the scariest movies of all time because it doesn't make you jump out of your seat. It paralyzes you there with a type of terror you might feel in real life. That fear comes from Mitchell's conceit there's some kind of curse people pass through sex. Once you've passed it along (aka, have sex with someone new) they have it. What is it? A being that can take human shape and follows you. That's it. It slowly, steadly, just walks toward you. Where ever you go. Think about that. The horror of always looking over your shoulder, never being able to close your eyes, always worried what's coming. And then, when it's there, seeing it slowly, steady, walking towards you. This being isn't in any rush. It's the tortoise, you're the hare.

Mitchell uses this idea in a plethora of unique ways. Most of which involve a simple scene and a figure in the deep background simply walking. The walk itself becomes the villain because the curse can take any shape or form. Every person becomes a potential killer and as the camera moves around, we see the film's characters either reacting to it – or worse – not reacting to it as the dread builds and builds and builds.

The Star and the Score

Maika Monroe, last seen in The Guest, is the main victim in the film and she plays the dread incredibly realistically. Tears, screaming running, fatigue, it's all there as she and her friends try and figure out how to stop the curse. All the while, the film keeps adding teeny tiny bits to expand the possibilities a bit. But it never gets too wild. We never get any big explanation. It's just a force, creeping up on the audience.

A big help to that is the score by Disasterpiece. It's heavily influenced by John Carpenter's score for Halloween – I think I even heard a few riffs in there –  but this score is more electronic and bassy, giving the film a scary, yet modern feel.

The Context

As good as It Follows is on a surface level, it's also got social commentary good horror does so well. It's about the consequences of sex and how a wrong decision can follow you forever. There are moments in the movie where men are perfectly fine to knowingly take on this curse, just to have sex. Guys – it's your life or sex, one time! The fact so many choose the former, and the consequences are dire, definitely adds a nice thematic layer below the terrifying premise.

When I judge a horror movie, the #1 criteria is how scary is the film. After that, we can look at everything else. It Follows scared me. A lot. Like, more than probably 90% of the other horror movies I've ever seen. So that seems like a fair raiting. If you like to be scared, there hasn't been a better film in years.

/Film review: 9 out of 10

It Follows played this week at the Sundance Film Festival, but we saw it as part of the AFI Fest presented by Audi in 2014. It's now in theaters.