How the Cinematography in ‘It Follows’ Trains You To Be Paranoid

Thanks, 'It Follows' for making a slow pan feel so scary.
It Follows Cinematography

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that explores how the cinematography in “It Follows” challenged slasher movie conventions.

2014’s It Follows never hides the fact that its interests lie in the 1980s; that its conversation partner is, first and foremost, the kind of slashers that sacrifice sexual deviants and reward resilient virginity.

If the film passed you by (or is collecting dust on your watchlist), here’s the gist: after hooking up with date, Jay (Maika Monroe) finds herself the newest victim of a horrifying disease. Something is stalking her now. It can look like anybody. And it’s coming to kill her. As long as Jay keeps moving, she’ll be fine. But when the creature keeps clipping Jay’s heels, she and her pals must find a way to divert the curse to someone else.

We could gladly spend all day listing the ways that David Robert Mitchell’s film challenges the conventions of the slasher film. But as today’s video essay notes, one of the film’s most sophisticated twists on the genre takes the shape of one of the slasher’s cheapest tricks: the jump scare.

From the use of offscreen space to the subversion of what we’ve come to expect from “spatial penetration,” here’s a video essay that examines the techniques that train us to be paranoid rather than shocked. Don’t forget to look over your shoulder … you never know who’s behind you.

Watch “How Cinematography in It Follows (2014) Challenges Slasher Horror”

Who made this?

This video essay about how the cinematography of It Follows challenged slasher conventions is by Jordan Schonig, who holds a Ph.D. in Cinema and Media Studies from the University of Chicago. They are a Film Studies lecturer and make video essays on, what else, film. You can subscribe to Schonig on YouTube here. And you can follow them on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields: Meg has been writing professionally about all things film-related since 2016. She is a Senior Contributor at Film School Rejects as well as a Curator for One Perfect Shot. She has attended international film festivals such as TIFF, Hot Docs, and the Nitrate Picture Show as a member of the press. In her day job as an archivist and records manager, she regularly works with physical media and is committed to ensuring ongoing physical media accessibility in the digital age. You can find more of Meg's work at Cinema Scope, Dead Central, and Nonfics. She has also appeared on a number of film-related podcasts, including All the President's Minutes, Zodiac: Chronicle, Cannes I Kick It?, and Junk Filter. Her work has been shared on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Business Insider, and CherryPicks. Meg has a B.A. from the University of King's College and a Master of Information degree from the University of Toronto.