Horror fans rejoice, David Robert Mitchell’s new film “It Follows” is just for you.

The writer/director has taken a simple premise, and a limited budget, and created a genuinely engaging creep show.

In “It Follows” Maika Monroe plays Jay, a college-age girl who gets involved with a boy named Paul (Keir Gilchrist).

Their relationship builds to a sexual encounter that seems innocent enough, until Paul reveals that he has passed to her, through the encounter, a ghost bent on murder. No one else can see the ghost. It can appear as anyone and if it gets to you, you die.

The only way Jay can get rid of the ghost is to have sex with someone else and pass it to them.

With the help of her friends, Jay sets out to put an end to the ghost before it gets to anyone else.

In a way, the ghost serves as the metaphor for the old horror cliche about how promiscuity leads to death and the virginal characters are usually the lone survivors, but “It Follows” is more about mood and goose-bump moments than trying to go too deep with a grand statement.

Mitchell creates those moments quite well, using the camera to create tension – keeping the audience on its toes looking for visual clues.

These lead to some truly creepy moments, with several scares mixed throughout.

Monroe makes a likable enough heroine, heading a cast that is a little smarter than your typical horror film.

“It Follows” does suffer a bit in the final act, where I wish it could have been a little more focused wrapping everything up. A final confrontation doesn’t quite have the satisfaction it should, given the way the film’s tension builds throughout, but it does seem to get slightly better upon reflection.

The final moments prevent “It Follows” from reaching the genre-transcending level like last year’s indie horror flick “The Babadook,” but it is still a cut above most of the other recent films in the genre.

Also in theaters

On paper a film starring Sean Penn and featuring Javier Bardem and Idris Elba seems like one that would be at least interesting.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with “The Gunman” (D+).

Despite the presence of those usually reliable actors, this is a film that is sunk by a leaky premise – with Don MacPherson’s adaptation of Jean-Patrick Manchette’s novel a muddled mess of eye-rolling moments.

Penn plays Terrier, a sniper for a mercenary assassination team whose latest job is killing the minister of mines of the Congo.

It’s a mission that forces Terrier to exit the country and leave everything behind, including his girlfriend Annie (Jasmine Trinca).

Several years later Terrier is retired from the business, working as a humanitarian. When a paid hit squad comes after Terrier, it sends him back to the Congo trying to find out who is behind it – only to discover Annie is now married to former friend and co-worker Felix (Bardem).

There are so many moments in “The Gunman” that are just beyond awful.

To see Terrier go from cold-blooded assassin to a humanitarian that rivals the kind of work Penn is known for screams parody, yet is asked to be taken seriously.

Then you have the dreadful and predictable love triangle, a plot line that gives Bardem ample opportunity to chew up scenery before his character exits long before the final credits.

Most of the time you get Penn brooding, as a character who is supposed to be suffering from his actions. I think the audience suffers more than the character, having to sit through this plodding excursion.

Elba arrives late, way too late, and Ray Winstone has a nice supporting role that interjects a little life into this dreadful affair.

But that isn’t enough to save “The Gunman” from its fate as a forgettable action film with a conscience – a mix that proves to be more deadly than the lead character.

“The Gunman” is rated R for strong violence, language and some sexuality and is now playing at the Regal Bowling Green Stadium 12, Highland Cinemas (Glasgow)

— To read Micheal Compton’s review of “Insurgent” visit his blog at bgdailynews.com/sports/blogs/straight_outta_compton or on Twitter at twitter.com/mcompton428. Email him at mcompton@bgdailynews.com.   


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