Everyone knows that you shouldn’t play with fire, because it’s been ingrained in our heads since we were kids, so might I propose adding “overhype a movie” to the list of things that future children should learn to avoid as well? Though there are obvious benefits to a small indie film building buzz on the festival circuit – and in the case of a movie like “Whiplash,” completely deserved – it can also ruin your experience when the film fails to live up to that hyperbolic praise. David Robert Mitchell’s sophomore effort, “It Follows,” is an excellent example of how misleading hype can be, because while the movie definitely has its merits as an innovative piece of genre filmmaking, it leans too heavily on the unique premise to fully realize its true potential, let alone warrant so much acclaim.
Set in a timeless Detroit where rotary phones and tube TVs coexist with miniature e-readers, the film tells the story of Jay (Maika Monroe), a teenage suburbanite who thinks she’s found the man of her dreams in new boyfriend, Hugh (Jake Leary), only to discover that he’s more like something out of a nightmare. When their sex-filled date ends with Jay chloroformed and bound to a wheelchair, Hugh explains that he’s infected her with a curse – like some kind of sexually transmitted disease – where the victim becomes ruthlessly stalked by a slow-walking entity that can assume any form. Nobody else can see it, but if it catches you, it’ll kill you, and the only way to get rid of it is by having sex with someone else and passing it on. And even then, you’re not completely safe, because if it kills that person, the nightmarish entity will refocus its attention on you until it kills everyone in the chain. Trapped in a constant state of fear and paranoia, Jay must rely on the help of her friends – including younger sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and childhood crush Paul (Keir Gilchrist) – to stop the monster from claiming any more lives.