NEW YORK (CNS) — The out-of-the-1970s premise of “It Follows” (Radius-TWC) has something to do with adolescents being haunted, and sometimes killed, after engaging in sexual activity.

Writer-director David Robert Mitchell’s exploitative film — which feels more like the discomfiting remake of an ancient stag reel than a frightening homage to horrors past — is sloppy in execution and ambiguous in story line.

Teenage Jay (Maika Monroe), who lives in a crumbling Detroit, has an impulsive backseat encounter with Hugh (Jake Weary). Afterward, she’s rhapsodic. But things quickly take a macabre turn when it develops that Hugh has infected his partner with a sexually transmitted curse under the terms of which she’s pursued by a marauding ghost.


Since this is a wraith capable of assuming different personas, some exposition is required. “It can look like someone you know or it can be in a crowd. Whatever helps it get close to you,” Hugh advises the terrified Jay. “It’s slow, but it isn’t dumb.”

The only way to be rid of these specters — which have murderous intent and are invisible to all but their victim — is to pass them on to another person through sexual contact.

Is this meant as an analogy to venereal disease or, perhaps, guilt? Nope. It’s just a dumb horror movie idea, nothing more.

Jay spends the rest of the picture running from these apparitions and setting up trysts with Greg (Daniel Zovatto) and Paul (Keir Gilchrist), both of whom are eager to “rescue” her.

The film contains considerable violence, some of it bloody, strong sexual content — including full male and female nudity, a couple of scenes of semi-graphic nonmarital sexual activity, implications of incest and references to pornography — as well as fleeting crude and crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is O — morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R — restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.


Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.