Maika Monroe

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Editor’s Note: This review originally ran during the 2014 Fantastic Fest. We’re rerunning it now that It Follows is in limited release. 

David Robert Mitchell’s The Myth of the American Sleepover is a movie about the resigning of innocence; the last gasp of youth that is gracefully exhaled before inevitably breathing in the fumes of the adult world. Like American Graffiti before it, there’s an overwhelming sense of melancholia that hangs over the movie’s single night setting, as if the writer/director is mourning the cycle of childhood as it moves into the dawn the responsibility. With his follow-up feature, Mitchell has crafted a natural progression in terms of thematics, only he adds a dash of perverse Cronenbergian genre play, resulting in what may be the defining horror film of this generation. It Follows is a dynamite piece of supernatural storytelling, equal parts touching and thrilling. Though fundamentally the film is more of the same from Mitchell, who is emerging as the premiere cinematic observer of youth in the modern auteurist pantheon. (more…)

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The doorbell rings, startling Laura Peterson (Sheila Kelley) out of a silent grievous moment. She rises and opens the door to find a handsome young man (Dan Stevens) waiting for her on the front porch. He has striking blue eyes; piercing crystal spheres that soften with kindness upon taking in her form. He says his name is David. He says that he knew her son and served with him in the war. He says that he was with him when he died. He says that he promised to ‘check on’ her family, and that pledge is what led him to this encounter. Laura asks David if he’d like to come inside and opens the door a little wider, letting him know that he is welcome in her home.

Thus begins The Guest, the latest from Simon Barrett and Adam Wingard, the writing/directing team behind You’re Next and A Horrible Way to Die. Outside of being a sparse set up for the mess of mayhem which follows, this opening scene acts as a kind of manifesto for the rest of the movie. This time out, Wingard and Barrett are playing with the unassuming; subverting the trust we put in those who have earned it. What results from the basic conceit is an evolutionary leap forward in craft for both the writer and director, as they combine the sure-handed simplicity of early Cameron with the meticulous, widescreen framing of Carpenter. Not only the best film both artists have put their name on, The Guest is easily one of the most economically entertaining action films since the original Terminator. (more…)