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It Follows

What a difference a shift in perspective makes. David Robert Mitchell’s directorial debut, The Myth of the American Sleepover, was a pensive coming-of-age drama that showed promise but was ultimately defeated by its own one-note sotto voce. With It Follows, Mitchell takes on the same themes much more successfully by funneling them through a simple but ingenious horror premise: the carrier of a sexually-transmitted curse is slowly but relentlessly pursued by a malevolent, shape-shifting being until the accursed can pass it on to the next unlucky soul. The film recycles its predecessor’s dreamy, nostalgic atmosphere, but tempers it with a consuming, paranoid dread, and its scares land hard. And while it nods at many familiar genre tropes (and makes no secret of its affection for John Carpenter), It Follows is less concerned with punishing teenagers for their sexual proclivities than it is with the idea that sex opens the door for the looming specter of adulthood, its approach slow but its arrival inevitable.