It Follows – soundtrack review
It has been gloriously foggy where I live tonight. Perfect for Halloween.
It Follows (2014) is a cool, strange and creepy film. It makes sense it should have a cool, strange, creepy soundtrack and of course it does or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this. But we’ll get to that in a minute.
I watched It Follows with my boyfriend and my brother. My brother is a film geek like his big sister but boyfriend, not so much. He rarely gets excited over a movie (sometimes this is painful for me to witness). He loves Die Hard and Studio Ghibli and that’s pretty much it – I know that’s an odd combination. We do watch movies together but he’s just not bothered about them like some of us are. He prefers video games.
Now It Follows had been on only a few minutes when he said the music reminded him of indie game Fez. This is all relevant (kind of) because it turned out he was entirely correct in his comparison. The guy who made the music for Fez – Disasterpeace – did indeed score It Follows. I was impressed but mainly surprised. To hear HIM tell ME something interesting about a film score.
This is written inside the CD case, from the director David Robert Mitchell:
I first heard Disasterpeace’s music while playing the video game Fez. I turned up my stereo and left the music blasting through my apartment even when I wasn’t playing the game. I loved his style, his melodies and sense of subtlety. I immediately knew that I had to get this person to score the horror movie I hoped to make.
I had never made a horror film before It Follows and I was nervous about how important music is to the genre. I knew that we needed something amazing – something beautiful and visceral that linked our movie to the past while simultaneously doing something unique. That’s a lot of pressure to place on a composer but Disasterpeace surpassed my expectations and hopes. His score fluctuates between beauty, dread and an all-out assault of the senses.
It can be exciting to wonder about the potential creative possibilities of another artist. What would they do in this situation or that? What delicious sounds will that talent produce? That’s how I felt in anticipation of Disasterpeace’s score. I knew it would be wonderful and cool. I just didn’t know how wonderful and cool, until I heard it.
What nice words. And he isn’t wrong, It Follows has a fantastic and distinct soundtrack, one of my favourite of recent years. It’s also very diverse, but at the same time all feels right together (wow I sound like Brian Griffin). And I liked how Mitchell drew attention to how important music is in a horror film and not just the obvious stuff to create tension. Track 1 Heels is the opener, where the girl is found on the beach legs akimbo (you can see below how each track is named to reflect its respective scene). It’s not so much a melody as uncomfortable, musical-esque noises and it works perfectly for such a shocking opeing scene. It’s subtle, builds up to (and back down from) a very tense and it has to be said, frightening crescendo.
It’s in track 2 Title that we hear the music reminiscent of Fez, though it’s blended well with the first track and the haunted-house-video-game-type-music doesn’t start until we’re almost a minute in. And you really could imagine it playing over an old video game, especially one set in a corny, purple haunted house. But before that puts you off, think about it first. Exactly, it’s clearly brilliant. And to be fair – and in all seriousness – Disasterpeace also uses other sounds in this track, both unnerving and modern, so it never sounds naff, just quite different. Personally I love the strange sound and I think it helped with the film’s retro feel.
Stuff like Track 3 Jay or Track 16 Pool are far softer, even serene, though still have that weird twist you can’t quite put your finger on. Track 3 plays whilst we see Jay for the first time in the film and are given a glimpse into her chilled out ‘indie film teen character’ existence. In passing one thing I always wonder in this film is where the fuck is everyone parents? Jay and her friends literally just seem to do what they want, even when she’s dumped out of that guy’s car in her underwear. Does any parent even get involved then? Anyway. I do genuinely like the whole It Follows soundtrac and the whole thing as a piece of music works exceptionally well, but my personal favourites are mainly the scary tracks. Disasterpeace just does scary so well.
Track 5 Old Maid is one of my favourites. The music spells dread and fear then builds up to huge tension. There’s also something about it that feels familiar to a typical slasher movie soundtrack. Track 17 Father at 5.01 is the second longest track out of the eighteen. It begins quietly, then turns into this fantastic and exciting dark, electronic type music. About two minutes in this really screwed up, disjointed sound starts playing, like jabbing at a wind chime or something. The entire piece of music then starts to get so crazy it’s actually rather frightening to listen to. The ‘slasher movie’ sound starts up again, with about a million other, uncomfortable noises going off and I dare you (double dare you motherfucker) to listen to it reeeeeally loud without getting freaked out. And this isn’t even about the film at the moment, it’s just a screwed up – but great – piece of music.
It is hard to do this soundtrack justice to be honest – it’s quite odd and very original and very tough to describe. The main thing I can say is I recommend it. And you should do what I do and drive around listening to it at night, freaking yourself out. It’s fun!