I was very nervous about seeing It Follows. When a movie gets this much hype in the horror community, I’m always equal parts curious, apprehensive, and excited. It’s these conflicting feelings that had me waiting so long to watch American Mary, which I adore so much now. But these feels are also responsible for pushing me to finally watch The Babadook, which I found more boring and irritating than most Lifetime thrillers I watch. That said, the bf and I had free movie tickets set to expire, so we had to go see something…
First, though it has nothing to do with the movie itself, let me tell you about the setting of the night. 9PM weekday showing. Empty old theater, wide and long with a balcony tier of more seats. Popcorn and cider in hand because Portland. All-American horror movie realness. If you’ve read other reviewers mentioning this is a film best seen in theaters, a drive-in, or in your own beloved horror den… just know there’s truth to their words.
Most of us know the plot by now, whether we’ve seen the film or not. A young woman contracts an STD-like curse and begins to see people following her. These people are often strangers, but sometimes friends and family, though always silent and sinister. Will she be able to pass the curse on to someone else forever? Will she unravel the mystery of the followers and end the curse?
This horror film is probably one of the biggest cinematic sex warnings I’ve seen in the modern age. And though yes, it’s done on purpose, it’s not done for that purpose. It’s all very meta. A throwback to the older horror flicks that punished sexually active teens. A critique of the people who condemn premarital sex and one night stands. But oh, there’s so many more messages being sent than just these!
There’s a jab to those of us guilty of engaging in emotionless, NSA sex. There’s a hyper-proportional warning about STDs. The appearance of parents as “followers” taps into the disappointment some of us had shamed onto us by dear Ma and Pa. Hell, I even caught wiff of “Hey, remember that time you shot down the nerdy boy who loved you and hooked up with that hunk instead? Well, there’s consequences to everything I suppose…”
The messages within the film about sexuality among young people are high, but it’s easy to see it’s all done tongue-in-cheek. They’re the extremities of the cautions we hear about sex growing up, elevated to a supernatural degree, which makes sex within the film scary, much like a huge chunk of society does to our youth on a daily basis in the real world.
The acting is great in the film, with Maika Monroe as the beautifully sad and frightened, yet brave-faced Jay. If you didn’t fall in love with her in The Guest, you’re sure to here, and if she keeps it up she’s destined for scream queen territory where I’ll be the first to welcome her.
The music, which almost everyone is raving about, is perfection. Genuinely eerie, it’s creepy 80’s horror synth for the modern age and is what truly elevates the overall throwback feel of the film.
When it comes to what I didn’t like about the film, my only issue is with the mythology it attempts to construct. Another horror fan mentioned that this film was similar to Halloween, in terms of why it was scary, acquainted the curse with Michael Myers. I can’t get behind that. Michael was simply an evil person, through and through. We don’t need any explanation for why he kills, because we all know that sometimes… people just do. What we do need explained, at least a little, is a sexual curse.
When did it start and where did it come from? What if you wore a condom? See the still below? This is one of the “followers” the curse takes form as. Call me crazy, but he looks to be in period clothes, signifying a history to the curse. Why show us its age if there’s to be no further understanding about what it all is? I just didn’t like the lack of revelations.
One other poor choice I thought was when it came to a scene by the lake. The sequence was meant to show you what uninfected person would see when the curse attacked, but the terrible computer effects just came off as highly comedic and ridiculous. 100% took me out of the story for a second.
Overall, I’m glad I went to see It Follows and I’m glad that the hype was somewhat worth it this time around. I kept hoping I wouldn’t be Babadook-ed in the end and I wasn’t, and these days that’s all I can hope for.