On the surface, horror films shock and terrify audiences with their depictions of gruesome violence and gore. However, under the surface, the shock and terror stems more from subtle criticism about the world we live in.
You might be thinking that horror films aren't sophisticated enough to offer any modicum of social commentary — and you'd be mostly right. There are plenty of films that exploit humanity's (especially America's) obsession with blood, sex, and violence, but there are some out there that use the horror platform to draw attention to current societal fears and anxieties. David Robert Mitchell's It Follows is one of these films.
The team over at Digging Deeper offers an interesting reading of the film in their video essay entitled It Follows: The American Nightmare.
And here's the film's trailer in case you haven't seen it:
The great thing about It Follows, other than its superb cinematography (which received a Spirit Award nomination), is that it exists in what seems like familiar packaging: a scary movie about the dangers of casual sex — like the "It" in "It Follows" actually represents an STI. You could even go a little "deeper" and say the film is a rebuke to this generation, with their stupid vapes and rock-n-roll and fake ass implants, warning them to repent for their horrible transgressions.
But, It Follows isn't about that — at least not according to the video.
It's about today's disillusioned millennials as they struggle to live in a reality they inherited from the Baby Boomers and Generation X: rising student debt, a shrinking middle class, a declining economy, and a housing bubble that has completely burst. So really, the "It" in "It Follows" can be viewed as "an amorphous embodiment of issues and anxieties being passed from the older generation to the new, as problems unsolved by parents become the burden of their ill-prepared children."
The absence of adults in the film, the invisible threat, the selfish desire to just pass "It" on to someone else (essentially the mechanism of the entire film) — all of these things send a clear message to the audience that, yes, these kids are all on their own to fight the evil that lurks among them. An evil that they inherited. An evil that they cannot escape — no matter how hard they try.