They Follow Is The Horror Sequel No One Wants

By Jacob VanGundy | Updated

I consider It Follows to be one of the greatest horror movies ever made but the upcoming sequel They Follow doesn’t interest me. The original film worked because of its great premise, simple rules, and surreal tone. If the sequel is going to add anything to the narrative it will either be unnecessary complexity or deep lore, both of which weaken the original premise. 

It Follows Was Simple, Surreal, And Perfect

It Follows came out in the US in 2015 and has become a modern classic, well-respected by horror fans and critics, setting a high bar for its upcoming sequel. The movie follows Jay, played by Maika Monroe, who is cursed after sleeping with her boyfriend, who then explains the curse and abandons her. The curse is spread in a chain through intercourse and manifests as a creature only the cursed can see, who relentlessly hunts the latest person in the chain. 

It Follows works because of its pervasive dreamlike tone and the consistent logic of the entity. The movie intentionally switches between seasons from scene to scene, and anachronistically mixes retro and modern technology, creating a surreal feeling. Within that slightly unsettling world is a monster that can look like anyone and can’t be stopped– only redirected toward a new victim by spreading the curse. 

Building Out The Lore Will Shatter The Mystery

As a sequel, They Follow will have to explore that world further, which risks shattering the surreal mysterious feeling that made the original great. Horror sequels tend to delve into the backstory of their villains, but the surreal tone of It Follows benefits from its mysterious monster. I struggle to imagine an origin for the curse that would be more interesting than a completely unknown entity that lacks a motive. 

They Follow also risks complicating how the curse rules, which would ruin the high concept appeal It Follows had. Unlike the nebulous metaphysical rules in A Nightmare on Elm Street, It Follows has a monster that consistently follows simple rules. Those simple rules minimize the need for exposition, freeing the movie to focus more on tone and theme exploration. 

This Time, It’s Less Personal

Actress Maika Monroe and writer/director David Robert Mitchell have described They Follow as bigger than the original, which I worry will diminish the movie’s thematic cohesion. With a small cast, few locations, and a self-contained narrative, It Follows had an intimate feeling that connected with the themes of the movie. A broader scope or additional monsters, which the title seems to suggest, would weaken the thematic weight of the entity by making it less personal. 

Not Everything Needs To Be A Franchise

Horror movies are notorious for diluting their series by releasing too many low-quality sequels, a trend They Follow risks bringing into the elevated horror sub-genre. The 2010s and 2020s saw a rise in these thematically resonant horror movies like The Babadook, Midsommar, and Nope. If It Follows has a financially successful sequel it may encourage studios to push other films into becoming franchises, which could quickly dilute the more thoughtful nature of the genre. 

An Unnecessary Sequel

Hopefully, David Robert Mitchell has found a way to make They Follow that doesn’t undercut the original masterpiece. While I’m not against sequels on principle, the themes and aesthetic sensibilities in It Follows seem unlikely to translate well into a franchise. Mitchell’s return to horror should be an exciting prospect, but I can’t get excited about what feels like an unnecessary, sequel like They Follow.