Follow TV Tropes


Film / It Follows

Go To
Something is going to start following you.

It Follows is a 2015 suspense horror flick directed by David Robert Mitchell. The film is based on a recurring nightmare that he had as a child.

The film follows Jay Height (Maika Monroe), a 19-year-old student living in the suburbs of Detroit. After a sexual encounter she becomes stalked by a nameless entity. The film then becomes an exercise in existential dread: no matter how far Jay runs, she must face the mounting dread of its slow but relentless approach, and the fact that she will never be totally safe, even if she passes it on.

It Follows was originally released at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2014, later getting a wide release in March 2015.


It Follows contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Implied, but not outright stated in the case of Jay and Kelly's father.
  • Adorkable: Paul and Yara.
  • Adults Are Useless: All of the main characters are in their late teens/early twenties and live with their parents who are barely present and are oblivious to the situation. Kelly and Jay's mom is implied to be an alcoholic, although some scenes do show that she cares for her girls (or at least, Jay). Her father is implied to be an Abusive Parent, if the Final Battle is any indication. Greg's relationship with his mom is indifferent at best. Even Anne, at the very beginning, doesn't enlist her father's help; she spares him, at the very least, third degree burns.
  • The Alcoholic: Jay and Kelly's mother is implied to be one, based on the minimal glimpses we see of her. At one point, she pours a bottle of booze into a mug during the morning.
  • Advertisement:
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Notable as a bit of late 20th-century flavor is how the working television has been placed on top of the old, dead, bigger TV. This was the case in Real Life in some people's homes.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: While we see Jay take a pill once and also have one placed beside a sandwich, nothing much is thought of it by most viewers. In the original script, however, it played a much bigger role and, as lampshaded by a conversation between Ms. Height and Kelly, is some kind of medication. It could be argued that it was for medical reasons as opposed to mental, but, given their conversation took place right after Jay flipped under the impression of a nurse being IT and her mom still blind to the situation, it's more likely the latter.
  • Ambiguous Ending: The final shot of the film as Paul and Jay are walking down the street together has a figure in the distance following them at a slow, even pace. Is this figure "It", having recovered from being shot in the head and following its victims once more, or it just some random bystander that coincidentally happens to be walking in the same direction as them? There's enough ambiguity to take it either way. The writer of the film, however, has confirmed that "It" is almost certainly not dead.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: The time period is left subtly vague and undefined. Yara has an e-reader, and modern cars are seen, but only one person has a cellphone (not a smartphone either), the televisions are all tube screens, the characters watch exclusively old movies even at the cinema, there's no mention of the Internet, and the main characters drive cars from the '70s and '80s. It also extends to the soundtrack made up of 80's-style synth sounds.
  • Auto Erotica: Jay and Jeff/Hugh's sex.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Jay gets a cast on her arm, a few scrapes on her elbows and a bandage on her eyebrow, but otherwise remains perfectly attractive through her trials.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Yara towards the end of the film. She usually dresses more conservatively.
  • Big Bad: The nameless, speechless, unknowable "it." No motive, no back story, no nothing. The only thing known is that if you have the curse, it will walk towards you eternally until it catches you or you pass it on. The total lack of explanation of course adds to the creep factor.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: "It" cannot be killed. After Paul has sex with Jay to have the curse placed upon him, Jay apparently forms a relationship with him. In the final scene, the two walk hand-in-hand atop the pavement of their neighbourhood street; in between and behind them at about forty metres distance, someone walks in the same direction as them, at about the same pace. Cue credits.
  • Boom, Headshot!: The only thing that seems to affect "It" is shooting it in the head, which causes it to collapse on two occasions. In the finale, the results are more ambiguous.
  • Brand X: None of the sodas consumed in the movie are name-brand sodas.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Inverted — It is the one peeing in one scene.
  • Cat Scare: A few of these are included to keep the audience guessing. One is the red rubber ball that hits Jay's bedroom window.
  • Chairman of the Brawl: When "it" grabs Jay by the hair at the beach, Paul retaliates by attacking the invisible force before him with a folded beach chair. He then painfully learns just how strong "it" really is.
  • Character Death: A surprisingly low body count for a decently scary horror movie. Only two die. Anne from the opening, and Greg.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Greg shows an appreciation for the female form, ogling each of the three main female characters and having several female admirers at various points in the film. But he drops everything (including one of those attractive females) to help Jay with her whole "stalked by invisible monster" problem, and all-in-all comes off as quite the stand-up guy.
  • Close on Title: The Title happens only after the film is over. Especially because that's the last thing we see someone doing to Jay and Paul.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: "It" is fairly eldritch, having no set physical form and no known motivations. Most of all, you can never destroy or even defeat "it". You can either die to the entity (in which case it will set its sights on one of its previous targets again), or you can only delay it by dooming someone else and hope that it does not come back to you. It is heavily implied that the protagonists are about to suffer a horrific death.
  • Creepy Child: The form "It" takes when Jay and friends are in the cabin at the beach, as it climbs through the hole in the door. Also, if you look closely, this form is of the young voyeuristic neighbour who is seen spying on Jay a few times.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Greg, in the most disturbing sequences of the entire film. Mercifully, it's also very quick.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Little is revealed about Jay's past, but what is known is that she did not have a happy childhood, and it is implied that she did not have a healthy relationship with her family, especially her father.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Implied. When Jay and her friends locate the derelict house that Jeff/Hugh was staying in, Paul comes across a stack of porno magazines... surrounded by balled-up tissues.
  • Daylight Horror: It appears and attacks in daytime and well as at nighttime.
  • Death by Sex: A more literal example than most. When you pass It to someone else, it's essentially a death sentence unless you tell your partner what's going to happen. Also how It kills.
  • Determinator: The It of the title. It can only walk, but the walk never ceases. Anyone planning to stay in one location for a long period of time better be sure there is a good distance between them and It.
  • Disappeared Dad: Jay's father appears to not be in her life. It's implied through dialogue about her past and through the monster's choice to take his form as it throws household items at her in the pool scene that this is because he was abusive.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: It is implied that Paul plans to pass the curse on to a streetwalker. Whether or not he does so is left ambiguous.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Jay is barefoot in easily three-quarters of her scenes. Somewhat justified in that most of those scenes involve her at home, in bed, at the beach, or swimming.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Tons, upon tons...
    • Clamshell mobile device = birth control
    • Greg’s death = Oedipus
    • The pool trap = suicide via bathtub and electrical appliance
    • The pool filling with It’s blood = the relief of a period following unprotected sex
    • It’s partially naked form = slut shaming / rape victim
    • The garage scene where It’s giant form smashes a hole in the door, followed by It changing into a child and crawling through the hole = pregnancy by rape
    • It is invisible to anyone not affected by the curse = bystanders having difficulties relating to the victim’s experiences.
    • The first time It assumes its giant form. Right before Jay closes her bedroom door, It is in its half naked form, which while creepy, doesn’t seem like an impossible adversary... queue the short feeling of relief as Jay’s friends enter the room, followed by a giant stranger who is significantly more imposing. Its like the visual representation of a potential victim putting a barrier between themselves and an attacker, and the attacker is able to physically defeat the barrier.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Paul waits around for Jay's relationships with more aggressive guys to run their course. It works. What that means for either one of them is still unclear at the end.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: Averted Trope, to deadly effect.
  • The Dreaded: When It's confident of success, It approaches Its victim in the form of a close relation, and when It's simply attempting, It imitates the form of someone the victim knows.
  • Drone of Dread: The musical score plays a huge part in this movie.
  • Easily Forgiven: Jeff/Hugh. If nothing else, the main characters could have easily had him locked up for chloroforming and kidnapping Jay, which would effectively been a death sentence for him if anything happened to her. Instead, they rather casually talk to him on his lawn with virtually no animosity.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Entity. Nobody explains what It is, what It wants (other than to kill), or from where It comes. We only know that It's targeting reticule passes via sex and that It will follow you to the ends of the Earth until It catches you or you have sex. It also has the ability to shapeshift, and can only be seen by those who are 'cursed'.
  • Electrified Bathtub: The protagonists try doing this with an entire swimming pool at the end in order to kill It. Their plan fails, partly because It sees the trap coming and turns the tables on Jay, and partly because electrifying an entire swimming pool to the point of killing somebody requires far more electricity than the grid could handle, causing it to short out.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: Done to excellently creepy effect when Yara, one of Jay's friends, knocks on Jay's bedroom door after Jay realizes It is in the house and barricades herself in her room. Once the door is opened, all seems well because only Yara is standing there, until behind her out of the shadows, It, in the form of a tall man with no eyes looms into the room.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Paul shoots It in the pool, causing Jay to see a gigantic cloud of blood envelop the pool's waters. Whether It has been destroyed is unclear. Jay and Paul have sex, and in the final scene, they walk down a sidewalk with a person far down the road following them. Whether it's It or not is left ambiguous.
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: There is a lot of panning in this movie, all of it to add to the aesthetic.
  • Eye Scream: When It appears as the tall man, its eyes appear as though someone's attempted to gouge them out.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • It often takes the forms of naked or partially naked men or women, but they're never a pleasant sight.
    • While none of the sex scenes in this film are played for Fanservice, the second one, in which Jay and Greg have sex, is uncomfortable to watch because Jay is only doing it to pass It onto Greg, essentially giving him a death sentence. She looks anguished during the act. Not to mention, they're doing it in a hospital bed, which is pretty unappealing by itself and Jay has been in the hospital for quite some time and is terrified that It will appear at any time.
  • For the Evulz: When Jeff/Hugh is first explaining the nature of "It" to Jay, he speculates that the entity sometimes appears as someone its target knows or loves, just to hurt them. This later seems to be the case, as "It" appears to Jay as her (implied to be abusive) father, the peeping tom child, either one of her grandparents, and Yara.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • While playing "trade," Jeff/Hugh chooses a baby to trade places with, explaining that he'd like to "start fresh." Of course, this is because he's infected by "It."
    • Another early scene features several characters playing Old Maid on the porch. It's a game in which there is only a loser, not a winner, and everyone's only choice is to try to pass the losing condition off onto someone else.
    • While explaining "It" to Jay, Hugh states that "It's very slow, but it's not dumb." The gang's plan to kill "It" hinges on the entity walking blindly into a pool in pursuit of Jay, ignoring the electrical devices they have set up around the perimeter. It's not fooled for a second, and immediately starts hurling said devices into the water with her.
    • Hugh explains that "It" can look like anybody, whether it's a complete stranger, somebody you know, or even a loved one; whatever lets "It" get close enough to its victims. When "It" kills Greg, "It" has taken the form of his mother.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: "It" often appears in the nude, partially or otherwise, as part of its creepily sexualized theme, particularly the first time we as the audience actually see it, wherein it is entirely nude.
  • Functional Magic: While there's no direct source on the rules, and the characters have to mostly figure them out on their own, nothing is ever contradicted. Granted, the rules aren't exactly difficult or hard to figure out.
  • Genre Savvy: Word of God states that Yara is the only character that's well aware that she's in a horror movie, but she's too apathetic to care.
  • Genre Throwback: The whole movie is based on the Death by Sex and Ominous Walk trope of the Slasher Movie genre.
  • Good Bad Girl: Jay is a sweet and wholesome "girl next door" type who dresses fairly conservatively and doesn't come across as particularly flirtatious, but she is implied through dialogue to have an active sex life, even prior to the curse.
  • Humanoid Abomination: "It".
  • Humanshifting: One of Its powers. "It" even seems to have some forms it favors for utility purposes, like turning into a tall male form when it needs to break down doors, or a Creepy Child when it needs to get through small passageways.
  • Horny Devils: "It"'s murder method of choice is rape. However, it doesn't appear to actually rape its victims to death so much as rape them and they simply... stop living, though given what happened to Anne "It" might also use its monstrous strength.
  • Inescapable Horror: Even if you pass "It" along, "It" can always come back. If "It" succeeds in killing someone, "It" goes back to following "It"'s previous target. Those who pass on the curse will live looking over their shoulder, always terrified that the creature has worked "It"s way back to them.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Yara tells Kelly that Jay is so attractive that it's obnoxious. Kelly agrees.
  • Invisible to Normals: "It" can't be seen by people who haven't been cursed. "It" has a physical presence, however, and can be made visible by doing stuff like throwing a piece of cloth over "It". In one scene, Jay's friends even notice "It" before she does, as "It" makes its presence known by lifting Jay's hair before attacking her.
  • It Can Think: Jeff/Hugh warns Jay early on never to enter a room with only a single exit, given "It" is "slow, but not dumb." "It" seems to be mindlessly driven to a victim and pays little attention to who or what is in the way. But during the pool scene, it seems that "it" knows a trap has been set and tries to kill Jay through the very means meant to kill "It".
  • Juggernaut: "It" appears to be a literal example. "It" moves unceasingly towards the cursed individual. Bullets incapacitate "It" temporarily, but "It" heals nearly as quick.
  • Jump Scare: Masterfully subverted. After seemingly spotting It in her house, Jay runs upstairs in terror and locks herself in her room. When her friends plead with her to let her in, she eventually opens the door's them, not the monster. While comforting her, they suddenly hear a knock on the door, and grab things to defend themselves before opening the door, and...there's still no monster there. It's just Yara, another one of Jay's friends, and as Yara asks what's wrong, with no warning or Scare Chord whatsoever, a seven-foot tall eyeless monster of a man calmly walks towards her in the dead center of the frame straight out of the shadows behind Yara .
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Jeff/Hugh specifically passed this on to Jay, putting her in mortal danger and by extension causing the death of Greg. He gets no comeuppance beyond spending the rest of his life in It's line of murder.
    • Jay herself, if she really did have sex with those guys she saw at the beach. Since "It" is following her again soon afterwards, she probably didn't even inform the one she passed "It" onto, as they must have died rather quickly.
  • Kick the Dog: "It" seems to like scaring the shit out of it's victims, in one scene even pulling Jay's hair just to scare her before moving in for the kill. Jeff theorizes that it takes the form of loved ones just to hurt its victims more.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: When they investigate the house Jeff/Hugh was holed up in, they split up.
  • Light Is Not Good: Whenever "It" is personally seen "It"'s either in the nude or wearing undergarments or sleepwear that is colored heavily white, which adds to the unearthly appearance. "It" apparently can show up in clothing other than this as well as early on it's hinted that "It" was a woman in a yellow dress Jeff/Hugh could see but Jay couldn't. This is what also lends some ambiguity to the ending when a figure can be seen following Jay and Paul, as he's clearly wearing casual clothing including jeans and a black jacket, but also a white shirt very similar to the color of clothing "It" is usually seen in.
  • Male Gaze: Greg admires Yara as she examines some shelves, and the camera lingers on Yara's bare legs.
  • A Man Is Always Eager: Jeff/Hugh tells Jay that she should have no trouble passing the curse along, because she's a girl (so presumably any guy will want to have sex with her whenever she wants).
  • Meganekko: Yara is bookish with big 80's glasses. It's also obvious the lenses aren't prescription.
  • Meaningful Background Event:
    • There are a number of scenes of "it" slowly walking toward its victim, who is obliviously looking away.
    • There is also a case of Meaningful Background Noise at the very beginning. We hear the door to Annie's house open twice while she's walking away, but we only see her father outside.
  • Menacing Stroll: How "It" walks.
  • Mighty Glacier: "It" is the culmination of the trope. A Humanoid Abomination that cannot or will not move faster than walking pace, but if it catches you... see the picture in the Nightmare Fuel section for a glimpse of the fate that awaits you.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • After Jay and Jeff/Hugh have sex, Jay lies on her stomach in the back of the car, smiling contentedly and talking about her young fantasies about what her romantic life would be like. Then Hugh joins her and seems to start cuddling up to her... then he suddenly chloroforms her.
    • Immediately after Jay has an extremely close encounter with the entity in her own home, there's a bit of comic relief as we see some of her neighbors watching in confusion as she dives out the window and makes her escape down the street on a child's bicycle.
  • Monochrome Casting: Aside from a few background characters, everyone is white, even the various forms It takes. Kind of strange for a movie that takes place in Detroit.
  • Motifs:
    • Water. Anne prepares for death at the beach. Jay is shown in her above-ground pool several times. The gang escapes to an oceanside cabin to for a time. Jay swims out to meet some men on a motorboat. The climax takes place in an Olympic pool.
    • Fingers and toes. There are numerous insert shots of Jay's fingers fiddling childishly with things. She also spends most of the film barefoot, with a number of shots showing her toes. "It" also appears barefoot most of the time.
  • Neverending Terror: The titular "It" is an Implacable Man Eldritch Abomination that, oddly enough, can't move faster than regular walking speed... the scary part is that it never stops, it always knows where its victims are, and it can go through any obstacle through smarts, shapeshifting or sheer brute strength alone. Anyone who becomes Its target must keep moving, as fast as they can, and never stop.
  • Nothing Good Ever Happens In A Parking Garage: Jay's first encounter with "It" takes place in an abandoned, decaying garage.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • The film slowly ratchets up its tension levels via carefully-timed scene placement, so that by the midway point a genuine uncertainty and dread has latched onto all the participating characters.
    • We are told nothing about where "It" came from or what "It" is beyond immediate practical knowledge.
    • The pool scene near the end, where Jay refuses to say where "It" is as she and her friends panic more and more.
  • Ominous Walk: "It" walks slowly, but never stops until "It" catches you. This is one of the key ways to identify if "It" is around.
  • The Oner:
    • Some shots go on for a long time, usually the panning shots. In fact, the very first shot after the opening titles is one of these, starting with a pan across the street to Annie's house, and ending when Annie drives off. Later, there is a slow pan around a school corridor when Jay and Greg try to track down Jeff/Hugh and you can see - though the camera shows it no favour - "It" walking off of the campus pavement toward the door of the hallway bearing the school records room in which Jay and friends are doing research.
    • Most notable is when Jay runs from the beachhouse and gets in the car, driving off - it's one shot from inside the car, all the way down the drive and off the road to her accident.
  • Parental Incest: "It" kills Greg while taking the form of his mother. Remember that "it" kills people by having sex with them. Yuck.
  • The Peeping Tom: Near the beginning, two young boys are spying on Jay as she has a dip in her pool (her reaction indicates this isn't the first time this has happened). One of the boys is later seen trying to peer into Jay's bathroom while she's in her underwear. "It" later takes the form of this boy as it climbs through the hole in the shed door later on.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Yara. It's the only use of her character in the film. She cracks a fart joke, knocks over some stuff at the abandoned house and is playfully in the water while everyone else mopes on the beach - but her character could be completely written out of the the film and the plot would barely change.
  • Police are Useless: Justified. Early in the film, someone asks Jay if they ought to inform the police. She declines because she's not certain if "It" is real or imagined by her because of Hugh; later, "It" reveals itself as Nigh Invulnerable, completely caustic and/or lethal upon contact, and physically unstoppable, validating her original decision.
  • Poor Communication Kills: At the pool, they merely ask Jay to point at It from a distance away, meaning It is within a few feet, not an exact spot.
  • Reaction Shot: Jay does not point out the fact that she sees it on the roof of the house, giving us as an audience time to infer whatever emotion we feel about the movie at that point.
  • Really Gets Around: Greg is seen flirting with a number of girls throughout the film. He even pauses to admire Yara's legs while they're at the cabin.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: The main characters only get a little bit of gun training with Greg's revolver about halfway into the film, and their lack of experience definitely shows both times they try to use that gun against "It". In particular, both times the shooter fails to account for what's behind their target before opening fire, so Jay nearly shoots Greg the first time, and the second time Paul does hit Yara with his first shot - even worse considering he can't see what he's trying to shoot. He does wisely decide to wait until Kelly throws a sheet over it so he can see what he's shooting at before trying again.
  • Retraux: It's very much trying to resemble an 80s horror movie. The films' debut poster invokes this brilliantly.
    • The decor of all the furnished homes we see is startlingly 50s, and old black-and-white sci-fi/horror serials seem to be the only thing on TV.
  • Right Through His Pants: Greg doesn't even pretend to remove his shorts before climbing under the hospital blanket to have sex with Jay. There isn't even a pause to indicate he got them off first. Jay also apparently has sex through her panties at the beginning of the movie, and later It dry-humps Greg to death.
  • Rule of Scary: Word of God states that the audience should consider this the de-facto rule on how It works, if they have any questions via Fridge Logic. Whatever answer is the most scary or unnerving, that's the correct one.
  • Run or Die: The only true way to prevent IT from killing you is to make sure it doesn't touch you.
  • Sex Is Evil: The monster is set upon Jay after she sleeps with her fit new boyfriend. Sex is the only way to transfer the 'thing' onto someone else, effectively making the thing a paranormal STD - you can pass it on, but that doesn't get rid of it, since now it's just found a new victim, and once it gets them it comes back for you. Also, once the thing gets you... sex is how it kills you.
  • Space Whale Aesop: Don't have sex or an invisible monster will stalk and kill you.
  • Stealth Pun: Tag, you're "it"!
  • Super Strength: "It" is shown to have pretty abnormal strength on a few occasions — it smacks Paul aside with such force that he flies a few feet, is able to smash a hole in a wooden door, effortlessly jump-tackles Greg to the floor from a standing position, and is able to throw large electrical items — such as tube screen TVs - without much effort.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Its appearance changes regularly, but It will almost always look like a normal (albeit creepy) person.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: When Jay returns from the hospital near the beginning, someone, presumably her mother or Kelly, has prepared a snack, along with an unknown pill, and left it for Jay to eat when she wakes up. Much later, after several days have passed, we can see that the same food is still in Jay's room, completely untouched aside from the pill, and mold has started forming on the sandwich.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Greg, who spends a lot of time with Jay and still ultimately doesn't believe anything supernatural is happening. His libido is obviously getting in the way of his good sense.
  • Wham Line: "What the fuck, mom?!"
  • Wham Shot:
    • The almost bizarrely calm shot of Annie's corpse at the beginning, with her leg snapped backwards over her head.
    • Later, there are the shots establishing just how "It" kills. As Jay steps into Greg's room, she finds the entity pinning him down and raping the poor guy to death. Even more shocking due to the fact that "It" chose to take the form of Greg's mother.
  • Who Wears Short Shorts?: All of the main three characters wear short shorts at some point
  • Woman in White / Man in White: "It" mainly (but not always) appears in white or light-colored clothing, usually sleepwear.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: Notice that whenever someone drinks from a can, they're holding it in a way that hides the labelled side.
  • You Can Run, but You Can't Hide: The only way to survive "It" is to run away from it, as far and as fast as you can. It can't teleport, or even move faster than an ominous walk. But no matter where you hide, It WILL find you when it catches up.


Example of: