It Follows: David Robert Mitchell’s Horror Film

Writer-director David Robert Mitchell, who made the 2010 “The Myth of the American Sleepover,” makes a quantum leap forward with “It Follows,” an unconventional horror film, which in its good moments contains haunting and subversive images.

Mitchell directs with an assured hand a visually stylish, truly scary tale about a teenage girl, who goes through some horrifying experiences that are not easily grasped or explained.

When first seen (from a far), Jay (Maika Monroe) is wearing tight shorts and high heels.  She seems upset, even terrified, but it’s not clear why–she’s obviously seeing or feeing things that we viewers are not.  Getting into the family car, she heads to a nearby lake. “I see you,” she says, but who is you?

Living in her Detroit home, Jay prepares for a date  with her beau Hugh (Jake Weary), who is a bit older. After an innocent go-around in a car, Hugh accosts Jay with an ether rag. When she wakes up, she finds herself tied to a wheelchair in an abandoned factory reduced to wearing bra and underwear.

Hugh explains that she’s going to be followed by a supernatural force that only the victims can see and that the force can take any human form, aimed at killing the afflicted one.

In the past, it followed him, and now he is passing it to her as a way to get rid of it. Problems is, if it kills her, it’ll go after him and then continue down the line. At first, the proof, a naked woman slowly walking toward them, doesn’t make much sense to Jay or to us. Is Jay a passive heroine, yet another version of a damsel in distress?

Suspense rises when Jay’s sister (Lili Sepe) and their friends (Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi,  Daniel Zovatto) decide to protect her from something that they can’t see and that won’t hurt them.

The story relies on a shrewd gimmick, namely, a thing that might appear in any shape or form, anything from an elderly stranger to a boyfriend.

Using elegant long shots of a road in motion and images shots of caressing water and flowers, Mitchell lends the film a fanciful, scary, even surreal touch.

, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “disturbing violent and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language.”

Distributed by Radius-TWC

Running time: 100 minutes.