The premise is intriguing, it's well-shot, and the score would be great as a standalone, but the movie plays into a trend, or what I wish could call a trend, that I'm seeing with disturbing frequency - movies settling for the general "vibe" of whatever genre they're going for, essentially riding on style over substance, but in a different way than one might attribute to a director like Guy Ritchie. You see it in indie dramas, with filmmakers taking an overly serious tone even if the scenes they're shooting don't warrant it, or posturing with techniques taken from Austrian directors used to empty effect that give the impression more is going on than there really is if only given a surface reading. It's an effort to give the impression that a film is striking a well-explored vein by merely offering up the image or echo of past films that succeeded, but the underlying content that made those earlier films work isn't there. It's tone first, story after, which I can deal with sometimes, but even the sincerity of tone here felt weak. The throwbacks they cherrypicked didn't work in collusion, other than to remind you that those old movies It Follows sourced from were great.
Here's a quote from an LA times article from 2012:
[Millennials] don't seem to think of movies as art the way so many boomers did. They think of them as fashion, and like fashion, movies have to be new and cool to warrant attention. Living in a world of the here-and-now, obsessed with whatever is current, kids seem no more interested in seeing their parents' movies than they are in wearing their parents' clothes. Indeed, novelty may be the new narcissism. It obliterates the past in the fascination with the present.
This statement might be referring to fixation on the now, but there's another way movies are becoming "fashion" as of late, in that many inspire a glance but fall apart upon deeper inspection, or are literally built to be ambience, viewed with one eye half paying attention while the the other takes breaks every few minutes to look at a phone. These kinds of movies are serving as background wallpaper, giving the appearance of horror without actual horror, the appearance of drama without dramatic situations, a thriller without the thrills, etc.
It Follows tries using a lot of 1980s horror homages, and is production designed in such a way that if it weren't for the presence of some modern technology you might think it was trying to take place in the 1980s, but for arbitrary effect. "It just looks cool and we liked those old movies so we'll do it." It's like a motion picture tumblr.
This probably comes off as an over-intellectualization but I didn't go into the movie thinking this way. The truth is just that I was devastatingly bored, bored as nails after the half hour mark. It Follows is 100 minutes but felt twice that long. The script is terrible. Only after I'd totally disengaged did these thoughts start to wander. Why isn't this scary? Why aren't I having fun? Why the fuck do I want to go to sleep right now?