It Follows (2014)

Plot Overview

A young girl has sex with her new boyfriend, only to find that he passed something on to her – something which won’t stop following her.

Review

I had a very vague idea of what the plot was going into the film – a film I’ve been waiting to see for about a year but have refused to read anything about. It’s actually a very original premise and is more interesting than it may sound.

The acting is surprisingly solid all around – I had thought Maika Monroe was the weakest link in The Guest, but she did a decent job here. The characters are quite strange, though. I went in assuming the film was going to be an allegory for STD’s, so I was actively looking for some sign of this and the character’s didn’t really provide any clues… of anything. That’s not to say they were bad characters, just that they were very odd. I couldn’t work out what time period the film was meant to be set because of the old TVs and polaroid pictures and then one girl had mobile and another with a clam E-reader thing. The characters also didn’t seem to be of any age – Jay is shown in class once, but don’t the others have school or jobs? And why didn’t Jay have any friends and was only hanging out with her sister’s friends? Where were their parents? In some ways this gave it a weird feel and allowed the focus on young people just be about young people (the kids don’t need no adults), but also confused me.

The ‘creature’, if it can be called that I don’t really know what to refer to it as, was actually really effective and creepy. Without trying to give away spoilers; it just walks. Straight towards you, eyes on you the whole time. No deviation, it doesn’t speak, it doesn’t run. It apparently can’t open doors, but can smash windows. It can look like anyone and likes to be naked. There are quite a few nice moments where you see someone walking towards them in the background which they don’t see. It’s obvious, but it’s also a nice subtle touch. At times it reminded me of The Horribly Slow Murderer, except creepy. And there’s

SPOILERS

However, the ‘creature’ seemed to lack rules. While this gave it an uneasy edge because you didn’t know what it would look like, where it would be, what it might do next, it also causes too many questions that ruin the otherwise fairly immersive experience of the film. There are a lot of ‘Winkies’ type slow build-up zoom things (not always with a climax), which really built up suspense and dread. And you’d start getting really into it, but then you’d start asking too many questions and be taken out. I’m not saying that asking questions is a bad thing – if you’re left with all questions answered at the end of a film, then that’s not a good film. However, you need some law and order to create meaningful questions and theories in your own head, and this didn’t quite have it.

I was reading theories and interpretations of the film last night and though none of them are what I saw – I got no deeper themes from the film, so I took it mostly on surface value. There were hints here and there of possible meanings but none of them really worked for me – and there were some interesting ones about sexual abuse or loss of innocence. The former seems to be the most solid theory from the evidence, but loss of innocence seems to be the more obvious choice – however, Jay states that she had sex in highschool and is no stranger to boyfriends so it doesn’t really work. Either way, neither of these really fit the bill for me and it doesn’t feel complete just on surface value. So I assume the director was going for something more than ‘a scary thing following you’ (which worked alright anyway), but I’m not sure what it was.

Summary

With some genuinely creepy and intense scenes, a weird dreamy atmosphere and an oddly alluring story, It Follows is a pretty good horror film. Leaving me with too many questions and no answers, however, makes it too difficult to be immersed in the afore-mentioned qualities. While it was a nice-looking film, some of the editing and pacing left it feeling a bit awkward as well. The music and sound sometimes worked well, but was sometimes overbearing. The climax was a bit underwhelming (that’s what she said), though I liked the way it ended. Overall, despite lacking some logic, it’s a nice, creepy horror film. I know I’ve over-used the word ‘creepy’, but it’s the perfect word to describe it.

Rating: 7/10

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