Chuckie. Freddie Krueger. Pennywise the Clown. Samara. Dracula. Norman Bates. Nosferatu. Jack Torrance. Carrie. The Blair Witch. Hannibal Lecter. The Babadook. The Devil.
The horror genre's most memorable monsters and villains have names. And, frequently, fully fleshed out identities and backstories. Viewers sometimes even see pictures of them when they were little, before they turned bad. Their faces—whether cloaked with a thick curtain of wet, black hair or dappled with leathery burn scars—inspire uneasy sleep. We empathize with them. We know what makes them angry, why they kill, and sometimes, how to stop them.
But not in It Follows. The deliriously frightening new low-budget horror film by David Robert Mitchell bucks the genre's habit of over-explaining monsters by going in the exact opposite direction—revealing nothing. The premise is deceptively simple: Girl meets boy. Boy and girl have sex. Boy tells girl (surprise!) he just gave her a curse: A mysterious creature in the form of a person will follow her until it kills her, unless she has sex with another person and passes the curse along to them. But if that person dies, the creature will come after her again.
There's plenty to parse without wandering into the thick weeds of the film's (inadvertently) daunting sexual politics. The unwitting curse-bearer, 19-year-old Jay (Maika Monroe), spends the entire film running from "it" with the help of her sister and friends in the Detroit suburbs. "It" is a mindless, shapeshifting creature whose only mission is to silently stalk its victim to the death. The only other details: It walks slowly but never stops, it cannot be deceived, and it can look like a stranger or someone you know. Oh, and don't let it touch you.