I’ll admit, I tried watching It Follows earlier this year but I had gotten so bored with it that I gave up. I figured since the film is now on Netflix, and Halloween is fast approaching, I thought I’d make the commitment to see the entire thing. While my first impression was not that far off from my final impression, there were certainly some good things in between.
The film is a horror flick through and through. There’s heavy industrial music following the many long tracking shots where the damsel in distress is constantly on the move. There are plenty of low angle shots demonstrating the vulnerability of our protagonist, Jay. Technically, the movie is a complete homage to John Carpenter and Wes Craven’s great flicks, but it has a certain awareness that really catapults it onto another level.
Jay, the main character, finds herself being followed by IT, whatever IT is. No, it’s not the terrifying clown from Stephen King. To define IT is actually quite difficult as it personifies many different shapes and forms. The film is clearly an allegory about casual sex. The IT referred to above only follows you if you sleep with someone who has IT. The only way to get IT to stop following you is to pass it on, or to continue the chain of casual sex. Despite being free of IT, it’s inferred that you will never really be free of the stigma or shame of IT. Heavy, huh?
Sex figures prominently into tonnes of horror flicks. It’s always the girl who is promiscuous that gets murdered or terrorized. That theme is alive and well in It Follows, however, there’s a whole lot of subversion going on. While Jay makes every attempt to rid herself of her new dangerous shadow, she does not really make the connection of what IT is and what IT represents. She’s not the brightest bulb. Thankfully, she’s got a motley crew of very devoted friends, including an old male friend that is in love with her. Jay just keeps running away the entire film, allowing the director to show some quite impressive skill at wide angle shots and long, panoramic takes, allowing Jay to be just a fragment in the film as a separate entity.
Set in Detroit, It Follows is scary also because of its setting. The city is depicted as war-torn and crumbling. The suburban neighborhood where Jay and her friends live looks like it’s stuck in 1975, alluding to the horror-cum-Amityville vibe the film has throughout. There are bits of I Spit On Your Grave littered here and there, and a smattering of Halloween, but nothing wholly new is presented here.
I would have liked the film a lot more if there weren’t so many plot holes. I know – it’s a B-Horror film, but come on! Where did IT originate? Where is Jay’s mother through this whole thing? What is up with Greg? And those weird aluminum can chime things? Or the dudes on the boat that Jay swims to later in the flick? And why does the world seem empty save for the characters in the flick?
Maybe I’m thinking about it too much. Perhaps I should have just turned off my brain before I re-watched it, which is sometimes easier said than done. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a spooky film, but just a bit…undercooked.