It Follows

Thanks to Wart M., a patron of mine and podcasting pal, for suggesting this movie! It was a wild ride for sure. Check out Wart’s podcast here and send him some love on Twitter!


Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkZYbOH0ujw

 

Synopsis: A girl named Jay falls in love with a boy named Hugh. She soon finds out Hugh isn’t his real name. Rather, it’s a fake name he used to rent a gross house in her area so he could sleep with her and transmit a demon/monster/creepy thing into her life by having sex with her. After they do the deed, he drugs her, ties her to a wheelchair, shows her the creepy monster, then literally dumps her in the middle of the road in front of her house. In the end, Jay sleeps with someone who loves her and breaks the curse. I think. 

 

Year Released: 2014

 

Director/writer: David Robert Mitchell

 

Rating: Meh

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Movie Pitch:

“Picture this: a monster that slowly walks towards you forever. Brilliant, I know.”

 

Favorite Death:

There were only two on-screen deaths that I can recall. Both are exceptionally different from the other even though they’re carried out by the same monster. I won’t go into detail because you don’t care, but suffice it to say neither the girl with a broken leg on the beach nor the mom that fucked her son to death were my favorites.

 

ekavFunniest Part: This part is actually touted as the most frightening part of the film, but I found it hilarious. Right as Jay is starting to realize this thing is real and following her, she locks herself in a second story bedroom. Her friends all try to convince her things are fine and she’s just hysterical or something. At one point the door opens, and while Jay’s friend is standing in the hallway, the monster comes up behind her. I just think it’s funny because of the speed the thing uses to walk up behind her friend. For the entire movie this thing walks at a slow, steady pace. But for this scene it shuffles up really quick behind the girl in the hallway almost like it was about to fall over her or something.

 

What they did right: While I didn’t realize this was a thing until after I listened to some of the interviews, I did appreciate the dreamscape essence the movie has. It might have come across as frustrated questioning while I took down notes, but now that I know the context, it makes a lot of sense.

This movie is also pretty slow paced but still carries with it an element of shock and surprise. You don’t find that balance in a lot of movies and I think this one did it well. I did like that, the “It” was pretty creepy, walking really slowly towards Jay the entire time made me uncomfortable, so that was cool.

I also liked that they didn’t rely on fancy camera angles, sound effects, gore, or special effects to make the movie scary. It was the epitome of an indie movie and that makes me happy, I like to see people make it in this world without having to meet the requirements set by more skilled creators.

 

Special effects and lighting: Good, I guess. It was a very low budget movie, so there were little to no special effects. One thing I will note is that as I watched, scenes looked fake or like a dollhouse. Thanks to interviews, I learned that this was intentional, but because the movie doesn’t scream “fantasy” right off the bat, this seemed a bit strange. Who knows, maybe it’s just my brain not comprehending the fact that this movie was more than what I watched.

 

What I thought would happen: This was a fairly unpredictable movie. I found what I might do in Jay’s situation is not what ended up happening. Also, the monster varies through the movie so what I thought would happen changed as it progressed. In the beginning it seems like something you pass on from one person to the next like a messed up version of telephone. But then you realize even once you pass it on, you can still see the thing and it still wants to kill you, therefore getting it stuck with you until you’re killed by it. I think the end was supposed to be, like one interviewer put it, like true love’s boning rather than true love’s kiss. Then again, there’s not much throughout the film to support the fact that Paul and Jay are meant to be aside from the fact that they had their first kiss together.

I was expecting them to fight back against the thing, but I wasn’t sure what that scene would look like. Rather than plot it out like normal people, we just see them plugging in a shitload of appliances next to a pool.

At the part where the gang goes to find Hugh to ask him more questions, I thought Jay and Hugh would try and team up to get rid of it by having sex again. They don’t attempt this stupid idea, but they’re willing to kill Jay in a pool full of appliances? Solid logic.

Essentially, I had no idea what this movie was going to be about because it was very slow moving and the tiny glimpses we get into each relationship wasn’t enough to keep me interested.

 

Thoughts from Interviews:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53OMcyj0auc (Interview with main cast)

“It’s a very difficult thing to explain” says the lead actress as she’s asked to describe the story line. I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that’s because there ISN’T ONE.

When asked if there was a message behind the movie, literally no one had any ideas. They basically pulled the “let the viewers determine the meaning for themselves.”

When asked “Why should people see this movie” they say “because otherwise you’re just going to hear your friends talking about it and have to see it for yourself anyway.”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ifuwjJXxLY (Interview with lead actress)

According to this and the other interview, this movie was based on a repetitive dream the director had and wanted to make a movie out of. During the explanation of this, Mikah, the lead actress, mentions that the confusing technology I reference a lot in this review was intentional to make you feel as if you’re in a timeless era or dream state. This actually brings a lot to light with the slideshow-esque scene shifts, and the odd technology mixed with modern style, etc.

Apparently this movie was supposed to be like a fairy tale. The interviewer even finished this thought with the quip “rather than true love’s kiss, it was true love’s boning.”

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XyuFeNiBk_M (Interview with director/writer)

I’m not trying to make fun of this guy, but the fact that he’s wearing braces makes him seem so relatable and cute.

He mentions that he has his own ideas of what the story represents but doesn’t want to share them and would rather leave it up to the viewer. While I can respect his reasoning for this, no one has given anyone information about what this movie is about. If the guy that came up with and directed this movie doesn’t even know what it was about, how can he expect us to?

 

Trivia:

Jay and Kelly’s mother’s face is never clearly shown. In the first scene in which she appears in the film she is seen talking on the phone in the kitchen with her face completely covered by her hair. In every other scene her face is either out of focus or partially cut by the frame.

Interesting, I didn’t even notice a parent figure until the hospital scene where Kelly is resting her head on the shoulder of a woman I assumed was their mother. Aside from that, I was left to wonder where the parents were this entire movie.

Not only do the set props prevent the viewer from placing the year, the clothing prevents the viewer from placing the time of year. Throughout the film’s short duration clothing ranges from coats, jackets, t-shirts and swimsuits during the day, to barely anything at all at night… all outdoors, with no signs of discomfort.

This was really interesting to me as I watched, however, without the context provided in the interviews, it came off as confusing and distracting from what little story there was.

In an interview with Vulture in which he was explaining the reasoning behind the group’s seemingly vacuous plan to lure the creature leading up to and during the final confrontation, director David Robert Mitchell insinuated that they’re just kids trying to find a way to defeat the threat in their own way. He explains, “It’s the stupidest plan ever! [Laughs] It’s a kid-movie plan, it’s something that Scooby-Doo and the gang might think of, and that was sort of the point. What would you do if you were confronted by a monster and found yourself trapped within a nightmare? Ultimately, you have to resort to some way of fighting it that’s accessible to you in the physical world, and that’s not really going to cut it.” He goes on to state, “We kind of avoid any kind of traditional setup for that sequence, because in more traditional horror films, there might be a clue that would lead them to figure out a way to destroy this monster. I intentionally avoided placing those. Instead, they do their best to accomplish something, and we witness its failure. It’s a probably a very non-conventional way of approaching the third-act confrontation, but we thought it was a fun way to deal with it.”

I found this particularly interesting because to me, that comes off as lazy writing, not intentionally leaving out clues. We literally go from one scene where Paul is trying to help Jay by taking the thing away from her, to going to a pool in the middle of the night in a city that’s so dangerous their parents wouldn’t let them go to as kids.

Also, I think my idea for Jay to sleep with Hugh is also incredibly stupid, so why didn’t they just do that!?


Main Meat

This movie is more of a slideshow of scenes that won’t have anything to do with each other until the end rather than a seamless movie that flows together. If this review seems a bit jagged, that’s why.

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The film opens with this superhero of a girl running in front of what we assume is her house. She’s not only in a flowing outfit with amazing hair, but she’s also running in heels through GRASS. She’s my wonder woman. This girl then drives away from whatever she was running from to hang out on the beach and cry. She calls her parents and tells them how much she loves them. This, of course makes no sense and is, of course, poorly written and acted. Anyway, this girl is dead within seconds, her body strangely positioned with one leg broken and sticking up in the air.

We then meet another girl as she’s swimming in a pool. Some Stranger Things synth music plays as we’re introduced to a boy peeping through some bushes at her. The next scene arrives before we’re able to determine who this dude is. P.S. we never find out and are left to assume they are some strange neighborhood boys that stalk her with no explanation.

original_05f251313bf0f219ee104c092b02cc5eNext up we spend a long ass time watching this girl look at herself in a mirror. We meet some of her friends, one of them farts, and we suddenly become insanely confused as to what time period this is supposed to be happening in thanks to a nifty little e-reader the size of a compact.  Turns out the main chick, Jay is getting ready for a date at a movie theater/organ concert hall type thing with a dude name Hugh that the movie, for some reason, specifically points out is 21. Her boyfriend sees something that freaks him out and they leave without ever determining why an old man was playing an organ inside of a movie theater.

We are next introduced to Kelly, Jay’s sister, and Kelly’s crush, Greg. He’s washing his car in his driveway as they pass by. Several flirtatious looks are exchanged, but Greg doesn’t actually say anything until later in the movie where he randomly shows up and starts talking to Jay like they’ve been friends for years. 

In the next scene, we see Hugh and Jay making out at the beach. Things start to escalate and thankfully this girl is smart enough to lose her virginity in the backseat of a car rather than on a beach. Regretfully, after the two canoodle, Hugh knocks her out with chloroform. Don’t worry though, in the next scene she’s tied to a wheelchair and one of the first things he says is that he’s sorry. He then proceeds to tell her that there is now a thing attached to her that he gave her when they had sex. He waits for the monster to be a few feet away from her, and then rolls her back to the car. Why he couldn’t just explain this without drugging and tying her up, I don’t know. The boyfriend then literally drops her in the middle of the road in front of her house and drives off. 

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Jay’s first interaction with the…whatever it is…is during school one day. She sees it walking across the courtyard through a window from her classroom, but for some reason, although this thing hasn’t been reported to walk through walls, she takes off into a hallway. We learn the creature is invisible to everyone but the afflicted and can only slowly walk in a straight line. This then leaves me to wonder what prompted the girl from the very beginning to run out of her house in the first place, walk backwards down the road, then run back into her house and drive off. If the thing only walks towards you, why did she run in a circle?

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After this scare, her close dude friend Paul offers to spend the night on the couch, keeping diligent watch all night long. Her other friends join as well. Thankfully this means there’s a boy at her house and she does her best to take advantage of that fact by having sex with him and getting rid of this thing. Unfortunately, before she can ruin a good friendship forever, Jay discovers the thing in the house. At this point in the film, Jay still doesn’t understand what’s happening to her, even though Douche Canoe Hugh literally explained everything. This makes the scene where Jay and Paul are flirting incredibly awkward because the viewer (or as least I) thought she was doing it to get rid of the monster, but we later (like, at the end of the movie) learn it’s because she actually likes him. It would have gone over better had this interaction happened before she was given the thing. I will give her credit though, rather than shriek and scream in a second room floor, her first plan of action is to climb down the lattice from a balcony and hang out in a park. 

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While Jay only mentioned in passing that she knows where Douche Canoe lives, she and her friends, with the hottie who was washing his car earlier, take off to find him. We’re not sure why because if this thing passes from host to host like he says it does, he’s not likely to have more information. If anything, they should have brought Hugh with them and tracked down where the thing started from. The dilapidated house they find is completely abandoned save for some medicine bottles, a few shirts, and an old mattress.  Flipping through some porn magazines, as you do, Paul finds a picture of him with a girl in a letterman jacket from another school, they use that info to look him up, find his real name (which is Jeff), and track him down. He then tells Jay exactly what he told her the first time, only now her friends are there to hear it.

After a short, yet strange scene where Jay survives another close encounter in the exact same manner she did just moments ago, she ends up in the hospital. Although surrounded by friends and family, she decides to have sex with Greg. He then proceeds to tell her he’s not being followed by anything so they all assume the curse has been lifted and that Greg is special. Of course, this isn’t true and, after one peaceful night, he’s killed by the thing. It takes the form of his mother and has sex with him as he dies. very weird. 

The issues I have with this scene in particular comes in a set of 3 quandaries.

  1. Why can Jay still see the thing if she’s passed it on? The way Hugh/Jeff explained everything made it seem like once the thing is gone, all you have to worry about is whether or not the person who currently has it is dead.
  2. it-follows-it-takes-more-than-a-bad-hair-day-to-make-a-horror-movie-444851Why does the monster pull Jay’s hair the scene before and full-on attacks Greg without giving him the chance to defend himself in the next? Jay is sitting in an open area, unaware the monster is behind her, no matter how this monster kills, that’s the perfect place to be, so why waste it by pulling her hair to let her know where you are?
  3. If the movie wants to include someone dying, after having told us everyone who has ever had it will die if the current victim dies, why not explain how they die? Without that explanation, we’re left to wonder why Jay and Hugh didn’t drop dead the second Greg was killed.

Immediately after watching her friend and neighbor die, Jay goes to the beach to find three men in a boat. Here, I assumed she was lucky in finding some dudes to sleep with and pass the thing off to before she’s killed by the monster, but I don’t know if that’s the case, because we don’t see what happens next. Next thing we know, she’s in her car driving home. When she gets back to her house, everyone is still there waiting for her. Paul offers to sleep with her so she can get rid of the thing and she says no. She never alludes to the fact that she took care of it with the dudes in the boat or whether or not she is still being followed. Without much more of a conclusion than that, they get the bright idea to lure the thing into a pool of water and electrocute it.

This results in one of her friends getting shot. Clearly this monster isn’t a demon, otherwise it would have tricked Paul into shooting the other friends and maybe even Jay. This leaves a lot to be desired because now it’s just a nameless monster that doesn’t really do anything. Not to mention, we’re not even sure what’s happening at the end of this scene because Jay sees the pool fill with blood, but the monster comes back later. Is she hallucinating? Can her friends see the blood? Why would bullets suddenly work against something they shot like three times already.

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What frustrated me most about this movie was the complete lack of character development. We don’t learn anything about anyone for the most part. This makes it hard to connect with the characters in a relatable way and to understand their motivations. Not to mention, there’s so little story line even the director says it’s up to the viewer’s interpretation.

In the end, Jay and Paul sleep together, which does nothing because, although speculated in interviews, there is no way to break the bond between the monster and it’s victim.  We assume something has happened to cure Jay, but as the film ends, the two are walking hand-in-hand down the sidewalk with the creature behind them.

As a matter of fact, as the movie goes on we learn less and less about the monster’s lore. We never find out what it wants, where it came from, how Hugh knew all about it, etc. To make matters worse, certain aspects of the monster change as the movie progresses. Why did it kill that girl on the beach the way it did if it has sex with you until you die? I get the leg in the air, but why was it so gruesome? Also, if the next person in line does die when the current victim has it, why does Hugh live long enough to pass it on? I have far too many unanswered questions to be satisfied with this film.

This movie would have been exponentially better if Hugh was the main character and wasn’t such an asshole. If he allowed himself to keep it and track down the first person to have it, it might be a more interesting movie to watch. Not to mention, it makes a guy that has to face the consequences of having sex with someone the center of the movie and not a girl that is known as a serial dater. The way it’s structured now doesn’t send any messages about waiting for the right person, being safe, or being in love with someone you’re doing it with; all basic parts of teen movies featuring relationships.


Last Week’s Review: (Dollar Store Disaster #1) Open Windows

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