by Matthew Thompson
It Follows is sort of like The Ring. There are no outdated video formats used to pass things along here. This curse – one that finds “it” slowly lumbering towards you until it kills you – is transferred through sex. It’s a sexually transmitted curse. The dreaded STC. Main protagonist Jay catches it early on in the film from someone she has been seeing and the rest of the runtime is largely spent with her trying to evade and look for a way to beat the curse with help from her friends.
Where It Follows succeeds the most is in creating an unsettling atmosphere that pervades the entire film. It starts in the opening scene that finds a young woman running for her life from a threat we cannot see. The camera slowly pans around in a circle to track her movements while a thumping synth soundtrack beats away. These tricks will be used again later when perspective shifts to Jay and we find that they match the deliberate pace at which the movie’s “monster” tracks down its prey. It’s suitably creepy and the changing appearance of “it” has you questioning any background character you see approaching the main cast. There is also something funky going on with the setting. I couldn’t help but try to piece together when this was taking place even if it was a fool’s errand. Old TVs and clothing clash with compact e-readers and newer car models mixed in among classics. I believe these anachronisms added to the unsettling nature of the film for me even if that wasn’t the intention. It just made everything feel a bit more off-kilter which I think works in the movie’s favor.
I’m still not sure exactly how I feel about the way everything wraps up. It is one of many questions I am still pondering about It Follows. I couldn’t help but wonder what I might do if put in a similar situation. And then there is the question of what parallels if any the movie is trying to draw between people’s attitudes about sex and the feelings we attach to the act. Throw in the anachronistic setting and I was definitely left with a lot to think about. I can appreciate the food for thought.
It Follows is a very good entry in the horror genre. I don’t get scared while watching movies. I’m not trying to sound tough, they just don’t affect me that way save for the occasional unexpected jump scare. So I look for other things from my horror viewings. This film delivered for me through its unsettling atmosphere, the creepy visuals of “it” moving towards its targets and the tense close calls that came as a result.
A few more things (spoilers below!):
- The ending sort of leaves things open as to whether he actually did it, but I thought the prostitute idea was a clever solution to their problem, if you know a pretty murderous solution as well.
- I couldn’t help but feel that Paul came off as super-thirsty. Sure, we can look at it as him trying to help someone he cares about. But then he is asking why Jay didn’t choose him instead of the other guy… I don’t know. Came off like he was so desperate that he was thinking, “Hey I’ll take a death sentence if it means I can sleep with you Jay!” Thirsty.
- I am really out of my element (and depth) writing about movies, but I wanted to give it a try. Bear with me while I try to figure this out. The plan is just to try it out with some horror movies I have been watching for Halloween this month. I’m hoping to do a combo review of Hush and Don’t Breathe next. Thanks for reading!