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"It Follows" Leads Cannes' New Discoveries

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire May 19, 2014 at 9:33AM

A microbudget horror movie about a sexually transmitted curse has drowned out the buzz of some of Cannes' hottest titles.
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Maika Monroe in David Robert Mitchell's "It Follows"
Maika Monroe in David Robert Mitchell's "It Follows"

Like many major film festivals, Cannes is where we go to check in on how major auteurs are faring this year: What's up, David Cronenberg? Tough break, Atom Egoyan. But there's a special thrill when a movie comes from out of nowhere and all of a sudden becomes the talk of the Croisette. So it is this year with "It Follows," a teen horror movie from "The Myth of the American Sleepover's" David Robert Mitchell that has been drawing some of the festival's most delighted praise. The story -- and reviews are explicitly wary of divulging too much, wary of preserving secrets -- sounds a little like "The Ring" meets "La Ronde," with a deadly curse shadowing people must either pass it on to the next person by having sex with them or die themselves. It's not quite a metaphor for STDs, since you obviously don't get rid of those by spreading them around, more a slippery allegory that, as one critic puts it, you can't fully unpack because you're too busy trying not to soil yourself.

Reviews of "It Follows"

David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Creepy, suspenseful and sustained, this skillfully made lo-fi horror movie plays knowingly with genre tropes and yet never winks at the audience, giving it a refreshing face-value earnestness that makes it all the more gripping.

A.A. Dowd, A.V. Club

The metaphor is looser, and the monster a personification of myriad fears -- of growing up too fast, or of old sexual experiences, which continue to haunt us even as we create new ones. Anyway, there’s something more primal about the film’s appeal; irrational dread trumps symbolic analysis. In other words, it’s hard to theorize too much when you’re in constant danger of crapping your pants.

Adam Woodward, Little White Lies

"It Follows" is a sure-footed and, most importantly, chilling cautionary tale for today's STI-riddled youth. But more than this, it's a film about the unavoidable nature of death, something most of us aren't forced to live in fear of, but an eventuality we must all face some day.

Tim Robey, Telegraph

It's altogether smart, subtextually fascinating, and more or less a contemporary horror fan's dream come true.

Jason Gorber, Twitch

It's a kind of pure thriller, with a few shocks mixed into what's a remarkably consistent vision that makes for a quite powerful experience.

Fionnuala Halligan, Screen Daily

Although it may ultimately be too soft for the hard-core horror brigade, Mitchell clearly signals his maturing talent in this second film, not only as a writer but with his increasingly sophisticated delivery of imagery.

Mike D'Angelo, Dissolve

This is basically "Look Out, It’s Right Behind You!: The Motion Picture," and if it doesn’t quite deliver on every level -- Mitchell does very little with the idea, floated early, that the thing sometimes takes on the form of people you love, just to torment you -- it nonetheless demonstrates anew that true horror requires neither gore nor jump scares, just vulnerability.

Alison Willmore, BuzzFeed

It holds onto its sense of mystery and lyricism, its dread ultimately feeling like a more general sort about adult life and the growing awareness of mortality that comes with it — a terrifying coming-of-age tale. 

Catherine Bray, Film 4

The audiences at Cannes are not always there for the same reasons as a typical midnight movie crowd at a horror all-nighter, and yet in the screening I attended, the gasps, relieved giggles and en masse jumps effectively transported me out of the Miramar, away from the Croisette and into an astutely programmed Halloween weekend line-up of cult cinema.

Jordan Hoffman, Badass Digest

I was lucky enough to see this with three other critics and we chewed into it over dinner, fleshing out the world, and talking out things that seemed inconsistent but actually made sense. I suspect that, like the post-coital boogeymen of the film itself, "It Follows" will eventually, inevitably find its audience.

Drew McWeeny, HitFix

The film looks like it was a micro-budget production, but that seems to play to Mitchell's strength, getting really solid performances that look mundane but that are actually nuanced. I suspect we'll see a lot more of Mitchell in the future, and he seems to me to be a guy who has a very clear voice. 


Jessica Kiang, the Playlist

While in the context of Cannes, the unstuffiness of its genre elements may feel like a refreshing change of pace, elsewhere, audiences versed in horror may be disappointed by the film’s relative softness, as it favors mood over outright scariness and features a threat that feels a little undefined; as chimeric in its abilities and limitations as it is in perceived form.

This article is related to: Cannes Film Festival


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