A development of the mystery would have benefited the plot as well. As it is, the formula becomes repetitive with Jay just constantly running away from the entity, not really discovering more about it or herself in the process. Perhaps if there were more mythology to the mystery, the story would have felt fuller.
Mitchell does well to keep up anticipation without relying solely on jump scares, but unlike his influence, Halloween, there are hardly any other victims, and unlike Elm Street, there isn’t really a plan to defeat this entity, only a plan to run away (and not very far, either). The characters don’t apply math and estimations as to how long it would take the creature to reach them if they were X miles away. They also don’t ponder the different hypotheticals, such as, “What would happen if I flew across the ocean to another country?” or “What would happen if I just lived on a boat in the middle of the ocean?”
Mitchell conflicts the audience by toying with his unique premise in order to subvert normal storytelling conventions. Jay’s friend, Paul (Keir Gilchrist), has been in love with her since they were young, and we want him to get the girl. But then we realize that this would mean he would also contract the curse as well. Mitchell makes sure he’s the most likable character in the film to better mess with our emotions.
It Follows has a classic horror feel in its minimalism and stark aesthetic, ultimately using the themes as tone rather than a straightforward allegory or story, which can be appreciated only up to a point. The movie utilizes sex as its character’s way to cope with the pain of losing her innocence, rather than looking at it as the reason for it. The characters have a “reason” to have sex instead of the more instinctual, passion-based motives in every other movie. That aspect is intriguing, but the filmmaker never fully formulates the idea.
One of the more urgent horror movies in recent years, It Follows is relentless by nature, and creates an intrigue, yet doesn’t quite deliver a satisfying enough conclusion. I understand Mitchell’s point in the ambiguity, but it neither fully satisfies our expectations nor does it answer any what-ifs we may have along the way, focusing more on the suspense than on having intelligence and incisiveness. It would have also been interesting to spend some time with Jay and company going backwards to figure out the root of the “disease” and who contracted it first. However, there is an obvious lack of curiosity and mystery, or at least less of one than the audience has.