“It Follows” is about a curse that is transmitted through sexual intercourse rather than witnessing a bloody suicide. As in “Smile”, the curse manifests itself in people who seem normal at first. They can appear out of nowhere and from anywhere, sometimes walking slowly. If they catch up with you, they will kill you and chase the last person with the curse. Maika Monroe’s performance as Jay is the anchor of the film, making her sense of constantly living on the edge palpable.
Jay also faces a moral dilemma. The only way to survive is to keep running away from the mysterious ghosts or passing on the curse by having sex with someone else. As in “Smile,” these eerie shape-shifting figures could be anyone who sees Jay: an old woman, a naked man on a roof, a tall man emerging from the shadows. They use hollow, threatening expressions instead of smiles. It’s terrifying to think that a monster can hide inside anyone it meets.
Writer and director David Robert Mitchell frames these people from afar, just like in the scene from “Smile”, where Rose opens the blinds and sees someone watching her from the hospital courtyard. The thought of being watched closely by someone so far away without even knowing it is extremely disturbing. “It Follows” is more open, but has the same style and paranoid apprehension as “Smile”.