Movie Review: It Follows

it follows poster

@calcium_waste weighs in on It Follows…

Ever since hitting indie theaters earlier this year, “It Follows” has been receiving an immense amount of critical acclaim, going as far as being deemed “the most terrifying horror film of the past decade.” Due to its extensive positive praise and high-grossing status, the film was expanded to a wide release this past weekend for all to enjoy, and it did not disappoint.

It Follows has an ominous and simplistic plot, yet it is a difficult film to discuss without sounding ridiculous. It is important to note that the film is deeply metaphorical and requires a great deal of patience, but if given the time and post-viewing analysis it deserves, it will undoubtedly leave a great deal of viewers paranoid and highly unsettled.

After a brutally unsettling opening scene, we meet the protagonist of It Follows, Jay, as she calmly floats in her backyard pool. Jay is a pretty, calm-mannered teenager with a close-knit group of friends. She’s currently dating a mysterious boy named Hugh, and during their date one evening, he panics and forces them to leave the theater they are attending. Jay, however, is so enamored by Hugh, that she looks past his erratic behavior and continues to see him. On their following date, they drive out into the woods and have sex in the backseat of his car, and as Jay lies in the backseat discussing her childhood dreams of being with a cute boy and having a sense of freedom, Hugh attacks her from behind and puts her to sleep with a cloth dosed in chloroform.

scene from it follows

Jay awakens tied to a chair, terrified by what Hugh will do to her. He promises her he has no intentions of harming her, but rather tells her she is in danger. He discloses that during intercourse, he “transferred” something to Jay—a supernatural entity that will hunt her down and kill her unless she sexually transmits it to someone else. “This thing… it’s going to follow you,” he tells her. “Somebody gave it to me, and I’ve passed it to you. Wherever you are, it’s somewhere, walking straight for you. All you can do is pass it along to someone else.” 

The entity first appears to Jay while she is with Hugh in the form of a naked woman, as he tells her that only those that have been infected are able to see the entity, himself included. “It could look like someone you know, or it can be a stranger in a crowd,” he continues. “Whatever helps it get close to you.” The entity, essentially, can shapeshift into a person of any age, race, or gender, and will walk towards the infected until reaching them and killing them. If Jay is killed, the entity will attempt to kill Hugh again, and return back down the line of all those who have sexually transmitted it beforehand.

Jay begins to see the entity everywhere after that night, in the form of an elderly woman, a deformed man, and young girl, among other incarnations—always hauntingly walking straight toward her. Her only choice is to run from it, though it is impossible to ever escape it. Her friends seemingly play along at first, taking shelter in distant cabins and beaches, doubting Jay’s sanity as she begs them for help. They soon discover that the entity is altogether real during a supernatural experience where they see an invisible force grab Jay from behind and fling one of their friends backwards, leaving a demonic, hand-shaped bruise on his torso. The group then agrees to do whatever it takes to keep Jay safe, and soon construct a plan to kill the entity before it takes her life.

Simply put, It Follows it easily the most effective and spine-chilling abstinence film ever made. Its metaphorical stance on safe sex and the spread of STIs are palpable and visceral, and yet, the film is so much more than that. It has the look and feel of a teen horror film from the 80s, with a sinister and atmospheric mood along the lines of the work of John Carpenter and Wes Craven. The film also has a gorgeously dreamy and nightmarish soundtrack echoing 80s horror synth-scores, adding to the film’s suspense and intensity as it progresses.

Essentially, It Follows is as much a horrific experience as it is a subtle one. Although it builds suspense expertly, it is not a film with any large payoff, climax, or conventional jump-scares. Nothing in the film is overdone and it does not provide a sense of closure. For this reason, It Follows is a film that will appeal more to audiences looking for something outside the typical horror norm, where everything is allegorical and nothing is spoon-fed. That said, It Follows may not be the most terrifying experience you will have in a theater all year, but rather one that begs to be deciphered and judged as a whole. One thing, however, is for certain—many will be looking over their shoulders and practicing safe sex for quite a while after viewing.

D.A Zapata

Twitter: @calcium_waste

Images: wikipedia &

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