“It Follows is a great idea in search of a better movie.”
Based on all the hype that accompanied It Follows theatrical release, you’d think that David Robert Mitchell was the heir apparent to John Carpenter.
And I’m here to tell you it’s just not the case because It Follows is an awesome idea surrounded by a decent movie. It’s not terrible by any stretch, though its not “One of the most striking American horror films in years” either.
Though that concept…Wow. The antagonist of the movie is essentially a curse, a sexually-transmitted demon. Once contracted, the only way to hold off death is to pass it on to someone else, who will have a limited amount of time to do the same.
If you fail to pass it on, it kills you, and works its way down the list of people who have slept with you.
I told you it’s an awesome concept. I also liked the idea that the movie wasn’t targeting anyone because of sexually promiscuity (in fact, it could be argued that the more people you sleep with, the better off you would be).
The movie takes place in the present day, though the effective soundtrack has a 70’s vibe to it that hightens suspense.
Though as I implied, the movie has problems, the biggest of which is that it too quickly abandons the mythology it’s built up whenever convenient (Quentin Tarantino was right).
For instance, the creature isn’t stupid, but it’s slow and has to walk to get around. This often serves to heighten suspense–like a zombie, there’s an inevitability to the creature that faster-moving terrors often lack–but there’s some oddness that accompanies the behavior that doesn’t serve the movie well.
For instance, the creature just appears in really odd places, and if it could just turn up anywhere it wanted to, it undermines the whole idea of it walking. For instance, there’s a moment when it turns up on the roof of a house. Did it climb the roof? And if so, why? And if it didn’t, that means it could pretty much appear wherever it wanted, which as I said, pretty much kills the suspense the movie spent valuable time building.
The efforts to make the creature stand out don’t work to the movie’s benefit because it’s scarier when you have no idea who the creature is, since it can look like either a loved one, or a stranger.
Instead, whenever you see the creature, it’s either nude–a dead giveaway–or in isolation–also a dead giveaway.
And do these young people have parents? I’ve watched the movie a few times, and haven’t see hide nor hair of virtually any adults. I understand that the movie is about the kids, but some sign that it doesn’t take place in a parallel world where adults don’t exist would have been appreciated.
What also bothered me most is the how they decided to confront the demon–there’s a hint why at the beginning of the movie–by using electricity. Why? I have no idea, though what’s worse is neither does anyone in the movie. This would have been a good time for what I like to call ‘the library scene,’ where our protagonists spend time at the library (or online in an effort to find learn more about what’s going on. It doesn’t even have to pan out, though the effort would have been appreciated).
And to add more to Tarantino’s point about how the movie inconsistently obeys its own rules, there’s a scene when you see what the demon does when it catches its prey; an idea that’s totally abandoned later in the movie–when it’s goal appears to kill by any means convenient, screw physical contact.
What It Follows in some ways reminded me of Phillip Kaufman’s 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers–arguably one of the best horror movies ever made–except that its inconsistency to its own mythos lessened its effectiveness.
It Follows is currently streaming on iTunes, but be wary of who you sleep with, because IT doesn’t forgive or forget, and it follows, till you pass it on.