Horror is one of my favorite genres. And like many who share a love of all things film terror, I love the low-budget horror production jobs of lore. Everyone knows the greats: Night of the Living Dead, the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street.
These horror production jobs utilized creativity on a budget, driven by visionary film crews. With low budgets came fewer rules, and a greater freedom to delve into the truly chilling. In 2015, a new indie film production job may be entering the horror canon.
It Follows: A New Indie Horror Classic?
Made for $2 million, It Follows may be the next great horror film production job to come out of America on a budget. Released in the United States March 13, the film production job has proven to be such a hit with fans and critics (95% on Rotten Tomatoes) that it’s getting kind of wide release rarely afforded to seven-figure films.
It Follows is getting the kind of critical press rarely seen for horror. Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian dubbed the film production job
“a modern horror classic”
in his review. In a four-and-a-half star review on The Dissolve, Scott Tobias called the film production job “the best American horror film since The Blair Witch Project.”
The Blair Witch Project, made in 1999 for $60 grand according to IMDB, brought the found footage genre to horror in a major way. It became more than a movie, but a pop culture event. The tale of a documentary filmmaker and two friends who venture into the woods of Maryland, rumored to be haunted by evil forces.
That film production job didn’t need special effects or big names to scare the living daylights out of audiences. In fact, the constricts of its budget may have amplified the terror. As horror master Val Lewton (producer of Cat People, the Seventh Victim, and I Walked With a Zombie) and other greats have taught us through the years, oftentimes, it’s what an audience doesn’t see that’s most chilling of all.
Elements of a Horror Film Production Job
It Follows is directed by David Robert Mitchell, whose career could be changing in major ways thanks to the film production job. Mitchell made his first feature film production job with 2010’s teen indie The Myth of the American Sleepover. With It Follows, he’s returning to the world of adolescence. Albeit, one of frightening, unseeable monsters.
The film production job tells the story of Jay. She is a young woman who, after losing her virginity, is given a disturbing curse, becoming stalked by the ominous force of the title. The “it” of the title takes forms, shifting to anyone or anything, constantly trying to kill Jay. Only she can see the evil force.
It Follows stars Maika Monroe as Jay, in what could be a career-changing performance. The actress was dubbed in a recent Vogue interview “Our New Indie Scream Queen.” Her performance in the film production job has earned great praise, perhaps marking her as the next in a rich line of powerful women fighting off horrible forces of evil. It is a legacy that goes back to Jamie Lee Curtis vs. Michael Myers and Heather Langenkamp vs. Freddy Krueger.
In 2014, Monroe starred in The Guest, an acclaimed throwback to ‘80s cult horror films by Adam Wingard (who directed indie horror film production job You’re Next). Like The Guest, It Follows has found artistic inspiration from the VHS horror aesthetic of several decades ago. The film’s theatrical poster looks like something you would’ve found in a video store horror section fifteen years ago.
Even more prominent is It Follows’ ominous, synthesizer-driven score by Disasterpiece. The heavy synths recall those of groundbreaker John Carpenter, who frequently composed music to the genre films he directed. Carpenter’s Halloween score is perhaps the single most iconic in horror film history, as the director tapped into the primitive sounds of the synth to create a terrifying aural landscape to fit his dark tale. Carpenter’s scores, from Halloween, to Assault on Precinct 13, to the Fog, continue to resonate, and now, more and more aughts horror films are looking his way.
It Follows: From Minor Budget to Major Release
The buzz for It Follows has been building for months. The film production job made its debut at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival, where it immediately sparked attention. Variety’s Peter Debruge, reviewing the film at its festival debut, called the film one that, “from the opening scene… feels different from typical genre fare.”
Picked up by a Weinstein Brothers subsidiary, It Follows’ 2015 release in select theaters generated such momentum that it just got a wide release Friday.
The world of low-budget horror film productions is one filled with directors seeking to pay homage to the greats of past years, from Carpenter, to Tobe Hooper, to George A. Romero, to Bob Clarke.
Yet It Follows appears to be standing out from the pack in a major way. How many genre films garner the kinds of op-ed write-ups, editorials, and in-depth discussion It Follows has been getting in the wake of its release? The film production job has powerfully reminded us again that horror can be just as complex and thematically powerful as more typically prestige art house fare.
Horror film production jobs, at their greatest, are just as worthy of discussion and merit as the works of a Wes Anderson, Paul Thomas Anderson or Richard Linklater. For a lover of horror, it’s a great thing to see. That It Follows has a shot to kill it at the box-office, too, rather than simply being shuffled to VOD, is a great thing to see for the genre, and for American film.
What are your thoughts on It Follows? Its themes, Maika Monroe's performance, its monster, its homages? Where does It Follows rank on your most anticipated films of 2015, or your favorite horror films of recent years? What are your favorite low-budget horror films in American history?