By Garry McConnachie
As A kid, David Robert Mitchell experienced a nightmare that would remain in the back of his mind throughout his formative years a film-maker. Such was its effect on him, Mitchell realised adding his own flair to it could make for a pretty cool horror film.
Fast forward to 2011 and his writing process for It Follows began in earnest and just three years later it was premiering at Cannes Film Festival. The critical acclaim and audience reaction that followed now has horror fans amped for what is one of the best horror films to come out of America in quite a few years.
The story of Jay (Maika Monroe), who is stalked by a ghostly presence after a seemingly innocent sexual encounter, It Follows bears all the hallmarks of a classic from Monroe's lead performance to the dreamlike aesthetic and the goosebump-inducing score.
Mitchell admits it has been a long process but also, a journey he has had fun with.
He said: "The dream was from when I was a kid. It was so long ago. I only remember certain pieces and moments from it. And the feeling it gave me. Even the sequences I remember aren't in the film. It's more just the way it made me feel.
"I had it in the back of my head for many years. I had always intended to make a horror film at some point. I thought this would be the thing I would turn into a horror. I'm always working out story ideas.
"I come up with ideas in a certain moment and sit down and write the thing out and build it in the moment. Other things I have the idea in my head for a few years or even longer. This is one of those cases where I added little pieces to it over the years without writing anything down.
"There was point where i was writing a lot and decided I should try and write that script and have it ready. Over the years I'd decided it would be fun to have this thing that could be shared between people. Passed between people. Then I started thinking it would be interesting to pass it through sex. The sex itself would be the thing that would connect the characters both physically and emotionally.
"I wrote it in 2011 and the script came out really quick. I was just ready to write it at that point."
With her star turn in It Follows coming so soon after her performance in The Guest, Monroe is swiftly becoming the new go-to scream queen and David reckons she was perfect for the role of Jay.
He said: "When we cast Maika she was just filming The Guest, so that wasn't how we had seen her. She was just fantastic.
"The strength of her performance, we could tell immediately she had what the film needed. She carried the film. The believability of her performance, of her character, in what is ultimately an insane situation that could border on being silly in some ways, depended on us caring for her character, and believing in her and worrying about her safety.
"Maika has those qualities. It was about having a really strong actress in that role. The worst thing would have been having those moments of terror - it's very easy in horror to veer off into B-movie territory if the performances aren't strong enough. I love a lot of B-movies, but we were trying to walk a line between those things."
Making the switch indie comedy-drama in the shape of The Myth of the American Sleepover to nerve-shredding horror was one of the big attractions for David.
"It was fun," he said. "It was a challenge to myself. It does some similar things to my first film with some of the quieter moments - that subdued dreamy naturalism that I'm fond of. But it goes to moments of chaos that are very different. I hadn't done that before and it was fun to do."
And of that "dreamy naturalism", Mitchell's striking visuals coupled with the score from Disasterpeace is a cinematic match made in heaven.
He said: "It's about suggesting a dream state. We connect to it. There are a lot of things that are familiar but they're just not quite right. Disasterpeace is fantastic. I'd heard his music from the FEZ video game score and thought it was great. I was excited to hear what he could come up with.
"I reached out to him a few years ago and told him I was putting together a horror film and thought it would be wonderful if he could do the music for it. I sent him the script and my first film to watch. He like that and agreed to work on It Follows.
"It was really fun for me. I was genuinely excited to hear what he would come up with for it. We had conversations about what we were going for. The editor and I had built a complicated temp score as we were doing the film. A movie like this, a horror, you need a score there. We used that as a starting point, a guide, then built off it. There was a lot of back and forth but it was just about letting him create music for these scenes. He's so great."
As with all good horror, the themes are always open to interpretation and, with It Follows, some have seemingly misconstrued the use of sex in the film as an 'anti-sex' statement from Mitchell. This isn't an interpretation he agrees with, however.
Mitchell said: "All I can say is I personally wasn't trying to make a puritanical statement with the movie. I'm aware of the concept being played but I don't see it that way. It's not my read or my interpretation of the film.
"If someone wants to read it that way they have every right to. If someone wants to be offended by it that's unfortunate. It's not how I see it.
"Yes, the character opens herself up to this danger through sex but it's not about sex. It's about anything in the world - life itself. Opening yourself up to danger. In this film, sex is something that also temporarily frees the characters.
"The way I see it, it's dealing with the fact we're all mortal, all here for a limited amount of time and sex and love are one of the few ways we can push that all away and temporarily live in the moment and keep death at bay. I'm a fan of analysis in terms of film and all different kinds of reads are valid. I may not be a fan of some but they have the right to exist."
• It Follows is out in the UK on February 27