What's Familiar Becomes Unnerving In 'It Follows' NPR film critic Bob Mondello reviews It Follows, a film that he says works some interesting changes on the horror genre.
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What's Familiar Becomes Unnerving In 'It Follows'

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What's Familiar Becomes Unnerving In 'It Follows'

Review

Arts & Life

What's Familiar Becomes Unnerving In 'It Follows'

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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

When it comes to certain movie genres, you know what you're going to get. Superhero movies.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Special-effects.

BLOCK: Romance.

CORNISH: Passionate embraces at sunset.

BLOCK: And horror.

CORNISH: So-predictable tension, terror, gore.

BLOCK: Usually. But our critic, Bob Mondello, has seen the new suspense film titled "It Follows," and he says it does not follow in everyone else's footsteps.

BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: Jamie's day starts out pretty typically. She's a well-adjusted suburban teenager getting ready for a date, hanging out with her sister and a childhood friend as they watch horror flicks on TV.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "IT FOLLOWS")

MAIKA MONROE: (As Jay Height)What are you reading?

LILI SEPE: (As Kelly Height) "The Idiot."

MONROE: (As Jay Height) Is it any good?

SEPE: (As Kelly Height) I don't know yet. It's about Paul.

KEIR GILCHRIST: (As Paul) Hey, Jay.

MONROE: (As Jay Height) Hey, Paul.

MONDELLO: Just normal life. The date seems normal too, until at a movie theater, her new boyfriend, Hugh, points to a girl behind them

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "IT FOLLOWS")

MONROE: (As Jay Height) Where?

JAKE WEARY: (As Hugh) Right there.

MONROE: (As Jay Height) I don't see her.

WEARY: (As Hugh) Right there.

MONDELLO: But Jamie still doesn't see her, and Hugh gets kind of squirrely and insists that they leave immediately.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "IT FOLLOWS")

MONROE: (As Jay Height) is that someone that you knew?

WEARY: (As Hugh) No, I just felt sick. I feel better being outside.

MONDELLO: The rest of their date is smoother, so much smoother that, after they have a nice dinner and walk in the woods, they make love for the first time in the back of Hugh's car, at which point things turn darker. Hugh tells Jamie that when they made love, he passed something onto her, that now it will follow her, that it is slow-moving but deadly, shape-shifting but familiar. And then, just as he did in the theater, he points to someone. And this time, Jamie can see a figure coming towards them.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "IT FOLLOWS")

MONROE: (As Jay Height) Who is it?

MONDELLO: It's moving slowly enough that they can easily get away, but only for so long.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "IT FOLLOWS")

WEARY: (As Hugh) You can get rid of it, OK? Just sleep with someone as soon as you can. Just pass it along. If it kills you, it'll come after me. Do you understand?

MONDELLO: How's that for inverting the abstinence metaphor that's behind most teen horror flicks? Something deadly and sexually transmitted this way comes, and your salvation requires infecting someone else. Shooting in Detroit in suburbs that feel at once pristine and perched right on the edge of calamity, filmmaker David Robert Mitchell doesn't resort to violence or gore or things jumping out of dark corners. His approach is more insinuating, letting you share Jamie's indecision about how to proceed, see the way that shame and guilt are turning familiar landscapes unnerving and once she's confided in her friends, letting you wonder with them where next she'll see someone that they can't, someone coming her way slowly. At school? At an ice cream parlor? In the front yard? Horror usually festers in tight, claustrophobic spaces, but this director loves a wide-open screen with lots of people wandering around, because he knows that once he's infected you with the premise of "It Follows," you'll spend every second scanning the background, almost in "Where's Waldo?" mode, terrified that you'll see someone who's just walking slowly. I'm Bob Mondello.

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