An Homage to Atmosphere: ‘Halloween’ and ‘It Follows’

There are more than mere surface connections here.

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There are more than mere surface connections here.

 

When director David Robert Mitchell released It Follows a few years back, he accomplished something pretty amazing: a horror film that felt simultaneously familiar and unique, one that trod well-known ground by a new path. It Follows is a slasher film without the slasher, it’s a tale of a supernatural boogeyman with no static form that conjured comparisons to some of the greatest films of the genre, most notably John Carpenter’s Halloween. This connection was intended, as evidenced by certain elements Mitchell employed like the score, the visual style, and even the name of his lead character, “Jay,” a nod to Halloween heroine Jamie Lee Curtis.

But this isn’t to say that it Follows is derivative of Halloween, or even a direct homage. Certainly Mitchell was keeping Carpenter in mind while making his film, but the strongest connection between the two isn’t something you can see or hear, it’s a feeling, one elicited by atmosphere. By this criteria, It Follows’ greatest strength isn’t its ability to mimic the films that came before it, rather its ability to use these films as foundation and build upon them something we recognize but at the same time something we’ve never seen. It’s like returning to your hometown after a few decades away: you know exactly where you’re going, you just don’t know what you’re going to find when you get there.

In the following comparative video from Alessio Marinacci scenes from both It Follows and Halloween have been intercut to reveal their atmospheric kinship and how each creates it. More than a look at mere surface connections, this video plumbs deeper into intention, reaction, and emotion to link the two films.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist