I hadn’t watched It Follows until now because, frankly, I had no idea it existed until just the other day. That’s just one downfall of living under a rock and still hoping to find great horror films that have little publicity to begin with – I digress.
If sex before marriage resulted in constant stalking by a non-threateningly slow, yet still somehow terrifying figure, I’m pretty sure everyone would still be doing it. It’s too bad in this case the recipient of the nightmarish virus-being didn’t know that her life would essentially be ruined forever until after making the prurient decision – but I guess that’s always the case with these kinds of things, right?
Jay Height (Maika Monroe) is a carefree college student living in Michigan, and it’s the classic story of girl meets boy, boy convinces girl to do something before she’s ready, girl winds up with a paranormal creature that’s destined to follow her the rest of her life unless she’s willing to continue the cycle and pass it onward – by sleeping with someone new, how else? So her jerk boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary) knocks her out with chloroform (no mention of where he got such a controlled substance, of course), ties her up, and shows Jay her grim fate before dropping her off – in her skivvies no less – and leaves town now that the weight is off his shoulders.
Now poor Jay – with the help of her sister and a few friends (all of which are seemingly in love with her, which is significant to show I guess?) – grapples with logic and ethics as she tries to figure out how to pass the sinister torch.
It could look like someone you know or it could be a stranger in a crowd. Whatever helps it get close to you.
In this glaringly indie film, there’s promiscuous sex, slow-burning and well planned out fear, and surprisingly great acting coming from this relatively green cast list. The cinematography is phenomenal, which probably serves to cover the fact that nothing really happens, although that isn’t always a bad thing. It works well in stories like The Babadook, where the development of plot and characters is entirely more important for the scare-factor than the monster figure anyway, who is an ancillary specter at its best.
With It Follows, the main character’s innocence is all but drained, and the comparison of her doom to the continued normal lives of her friends (not the one Jay sleeps with though, It gets him, and resumes its pursuit of her again almost just as immediately) becomes an overarching theme. Her apparently less attractive, less liked sister and their sea shell reading friend are in the background as clear support characters, and it winds up being secondary character Paul (Keir Gilchrist) that evolves beside Jay.
It’s true what they say; love is blind, and it has the power to make us do very, very stupid things.
Pleasantly lit, seemingly safe suburban environments turn sinister in this slow-burn type of horror film that doesn’t crutch itself on cheap scares and overabundant gore, and because of that it’s the psyche thriller type that really lasts. Just as we start to believe things are ok – really let our hair down – BAM, the arcane form is back again, not necessarily doing anything but being all the more terrifying because of it.
And as soon as I thought I’d figured everything out, I realize maybe there was no figuring it out. For instance, is it really the rule that sex passes the mystery-thing? The only way we know this is because Hugh says it to Jay (after assault and battery, but whatever), but are we sure he has the whole story?
That’s what I liked about It Follows. It’s an original idea that doesn’t take itself too seriously. What’s so horrific about it is that you don’t know what’s so horrific about it. It doesn’t hold your hand and tell you its evil plan, it just follows you, an insidious – often really gross looking – entity. And slowly, but surely, when you’re alone in the dark or casually lounging on the beach, it’ll get you. Somehow, someway, It’s always following.
And the most terrible agony may not be in the wounds themselves but in knowing for certain that within an hour, then within 10 minutes, then within half a minute, now at this very instant — your soul will leave your body and you will no longer be a person, and that this is certain. The worst thing is that it is certain.