London Film Festival: David Robert Mitchell offers us his twist on the slasher film and it's a ripper
David Robert Mitchell continues his visually arresting exploration of teen life with a horror film that recalls John Carpenter’s Halloween but puts its own unique spin on the slasher film. The same leafy streets of suburban Michigan in which Mitchell shot his first feature, The Myth of the American Sleepover, take on a nightmarish quality here, intensified by a throbbing synth score from Rich Vreeland.
When Jay (Maika Monroe, who turns in a deeply affecting performance) hooks up with a new lover her whole life is turned upside down as he reveals, in a rather nasty manner, that he has infected her with a curse that could possibly kill her.
From the very start, when a panic-stricken teenager flees the supposed safety of her family home - running in her nightwear from an invisible enemy – an unsettling ambience is established, which proceeds to trickle down through every fibre of this film. Whether Jay is swimming in her pool at home whilst boys peer over the garden hedge at her, or queuing up to see Charade at her local cinema a quietly sinister presence looms.
That Mitchell lingers in the company of these teenagers recalls the lyricism of his first feature, but this time instead of the heady delights of a first kiss, the consequence of sexual encounters proves menacing to their minds. The sexually transmitted monster manifests itself as a shape-shifter, determinedly stalking its prey in the same terrifying manner as Michael Myers.
Though sex forms the start of their fearful journey it is also revealed as a potential saviour, which further confirms Mitchell’s modern and mature approach to the subject. Skilful experimental camera work draws the viewer enticingly in, and often proves disorientating, while the supporting cast of Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi and Lili Sepe are all excellent too.
It Follows is suspenseful, atmospheric and spine-tingling horror cinema which nods at the masters and completely astounds as it manages the tough feat of being striking, sensitive and utterly disturbing.
Screened on Sat 11 Oct and Mon 13 Oct as part of the London Film Festival 2014. General release TBC.