Sunday, March 15, 2015

David Robert Mitchell’s new film "It Follows" at SIFF Cinema: Mar 20 - Apr 23

It's extended run indicative of it's success, David Robert Mitchell’s anonymous nightmare in pursuit "It Follows", has been getting just about nothing but exceptional press since it's premier at last year's Cannes Critic's Week. The film's partial period setting, desolate urbanism and slow unspooling mark it as a very different variation on the sub-genre of, "A Shape-Shifting Horror Stalks a Teenager". But Mitchell's film is less concerned with the shock and hysteria of the pursuit, than it is an inexplicable scenario in which the faceless nobody-and-everyone-at-once nature of the pursuer hides it's omnipresence in anonymity, everyday and mundane. Wired's "What Makes the New Horror Film 'It Follows', So Damn Good" describes the 'holy trinity' of director and screenwriter David Robert Mitchell, the teen protagonist as convincingly played Maika Monroe, and composer Rich Vreeland aka Disasterpeace, who supplied the retro game soundchip and synth-centric soundtrack. Pivotal to the film is it's sex-positive set up, one that's rarely explored in this honest a framing with teen films, to which it adds it's own compellingly sinister moral twist. Riffing on contemporary urban legends in the post-Ringu horror climate, the film places it's victims into the additional conflict of conscience and survival; when a victim is killed by the malevolent following presence, it will shift its attention back to the last link in the chain. Making it a question of survival by condemning others in the extension of said chain. Literally placing a human shield of bodies between yourself and the pursuing curse. Jonathan Romney's film of the week review for Film Comment focuses on the tone and milieu as significant aids in giving substance to both the character of the film and the viewer's suspension of disbelief. The cinematic ambiance of it's setting in and around Detroit enhanced by menacing, naturalistic use of steadicam and convincingly gutted, desolate urban locations. It's greatest strength though, is that Mitchell smartly chooses to keep us at a remove from our and the protagonist's knowledge of the pursuers true origin. The titular 'IT' of the curse travels in a straight line -- albeit a reversible one that runs both ways -- theoretically heading back to a single point of origin. But it's an origin that can never be located or pinned down because Mitchell retains that IT is a figure of unknowable, absolute indeterminacy. It's not for nothing that one of the supporting characters is seen absorbed in her reading of Dostoyevsky throughout.