Name a good recent horror movie. After The Babadook, you’re stuck, right? It Follows ends the drought. Writer-director David Robert Mitchell (The Myth of the American Sleepover) has clearly studied up on John Carpenter, especially Halloween. But Mitchell has his own twisted gift for letting atmosphere help define character. It Follows creeps you out big-time in that cool way that freezes the blood.
On a tree-lined street in a Michigan suburb, a girl runs for her life — in heels, yet. We don’t see what’s chasing her, but she ends up dead. All we learn is that the It that follows doesn’t die when you’re dead. It goes after the next victim, like a perniciously lethal STD.
Mitchell’s focus is on Jay (a terrific Maika Monroe), a teen whose back-seat sex with Hugh (Jake Weary) makes her It. He’s passed It along. It can take on different shapes — a naked old man on a roof, an erotically ravenous parent — that only the infected can see. That means Jay’s friends must take her at her word. With the help of haunting wide-screen images from cinematographer Michael Gioulakis, the tension escalates so high we’re not sure what we’re seeing. The uncertainty breaks the film’s spell near the end. Till then, It Follows shakes you up good.