One of the universal rules for surviving in horror films, as stated by Randy Meeks in Scream, is to not have sex. It’s a trope that has ingrained itself into the genre so well that it has evolved into a frustrating cliché. So when a film like It Follows comes along and reverses this established trope, and builds a successful film around the concept, then it certainly makes for a welcome change.
After sleeping with her new boyfriend for the first time, Jay (Maika Monroe) discovers that she has inherited a curse from him, and must fend off a supernatural predator with the help of her friends while also trying to pass the curse onto another unsuspecting individual.
Thankfully, director David Robert Mitchell successfully strays away from any sort of abstinence propaganda in the film, but the allegory for sexually transmitted diseases is present and it’s a topic that does form the moral centre of It Follows. Even so, it’s never forced down the audience’s throat and it can even be read as an inversion of the core concept, as the bearer needs to have sex again in order to pass the curse on, and inform the partner of what is to come for there to be any chance at survival.
Mitchell acknowledges the pressures of having a healthy sexual relationship as a teenager, as well as capturing the social complexities of such an act between friends, particularly through Jay’s reluctance to pass the curse to her best friend, Paul (Keir Gilchrist), despite his willingness to protect the person that he loves most.
Regardless of the complex moral choices that the characters face, It Follows is still a terrifyingly good horror film. The force that stalks Jay is unrelenting but slow, so the audience, as well as the characters, are left wondering when it will appear rather than if. There are no cheap jump scares here, instead one must face the horror head on which is perhaps the most refreshing thing about the entire film, and is also what makes it so frightening to watch.