It Follows (2014)

it12016.10: It Follows (HD Streaming, Amazon Prime)

It Follows is yet another frustrating horror film. Maybe I expect too much these days (is it possible to have watched too many horror films?). There was great word of mouth about this film and positive reviews when it first came out but it doesn’t really live up to that praise. Yes it does have a great central premise and it is well shot with some nice scares in there but… well, okay, it’s good. But it could have been great.

Jay (Maika Monroe) has a date with Hugh (Jake Weary) and the night goes so well that they park up in a deserted carpark and have sex on the back seat. But things take a strange turn when Hugh then knocks Jay out and she wakes up strapped to a chair in an abandoned warehouse. Hugh tells he that by having had sex with her, he has passed on to her a curse. Unless she herself passes on the curse by having sex  with someone else, a nameless creature that can take on the appearance of other people will stalk her and kill her. Only she and others who have previously received and passed on the curse can see the creature. The creature will not run, only walk, but it will not stop. It cannot be talked to or reasoned with. It will kill whoever currently has the curse and then it will backtrack through those that had passed it on. Her only hope is to avoid being caught and killed by the creature before she can pass on the curse. Well, she looks fairly hot and already has some geek lad back home drooling over her, so she shouldn’t have much trouble shaking the curse.

So basically, sex = death. Great premise for a horror film aimed at horny teenagers featuring horny teenagers. Its like one of those late 70s/early 80s Guy N Smith horror stories in some beaten-up old paperback. I guess it could have had some kind of meaningful subtext about sexual disease in the modern world, promiscuity and women using sex as a weapon (or men abusing women to shake off the curse). But this isn’t that movie. Which is a pity. The kind of layers that, say, a film like The Thing had back in 1982 are woefully lacking here, but films don’t seem to have that baggage these days.

it2What lifts the film up to something mildly interesting is that it’s well directed and has a great retro-synth score by Disasterpeace that recalls John Carpenter’s Halloween music. The film though falls far short of Carpenter’s classic. For me -and okay, maybe I wasn’t in the right mood, or maybe that great music was bringing to mind that great movie and raising unfair comparisons- It Follows just felt pretty dumb and too teen-orientated. There’s no adults around, no parental involvement, the kids just lounge around watching tv or drive around or… I don’t know. No-one calls the police? Or a parent? Or a teacher? Or maybe a priest? (of course, The Exorcist is positively ancient, these kids have likely never even heard about it nevermind seen it).

Worse, the internal logic itself doesn’t hold up. Early on the creature behaves just as we’ve been led to think it will, but later it starts just, well, standing on the roof of a house because it looks threatening, and throwing objects at its victim in order to avoid a trap. We learn that it was standing in a cinema just watching its victim when it should have been tearing his face off. It’s supposed to just track down its victim and kill, not hang around looking cool or enabling the curse to be passed on. But this isn’t really a horror film, it’s a date movie. I think. Its just a silly teen fantasy that could have been a kick-ass hardcore horror movie with something to say about sexual politics.

Still the film seems to have been very popular so I dare say It Follows Too (see what I did there?) will be on the way before long…


7 thoughts on “It Follows (2014)

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    Wow, harsh.

    I thought this was a genuine classic. I have no problem with a monster that doesn’t follow any kind of ‘internal logic’, because that makes it more frightening and illogical and dreamlike. Much like the original ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’, which this would make a great double-bill with.
    And the fact that there were no adults or other ‘helpful’ authority figure involved was a plus: it meant we didn’t have to go through the obligatory scenes of parental disbelief etc etc. [which inevitably end in said authority figure dying horribly].

    1. Well, maybe I wasn’t in the right mood/frame of mind, but as I’ve gotten older these teen horrors (clearly not aimed at me anyway) just annoy me more and more. Certainly it was no classic in my eyes.

      I think films like Alien or Jaws are wonderful as they feature middle-aged characters who have life-earned character/experiences and something to say, if only in their physical appearance and mannerisms as opposed to films starring teens who have no character or life experience at all and nothing to really say.

      Harsh, yes I guess so. But its how films seem to be now. All these Hunger Games/Twilight/ Divergent/ Maze Runner things with teen protagonists to save the world. Horrible. Would an Alien film now have a Nostromo crew in their young twenties? A Jaws film now feature a 26 year old sheriff without wife/kids to keep an eye on? Teen characters have no responsibilities or dependants or other weights on their shoulders so as a frame of reference they bore me. And surely for horror films, in particular, to evoke feelings of terror/nervousness the viewer has to empathise with the characters?

      How about an everyday overweight guy trying to hold down a job to pay the bills and manage his kids and marriage being thrown into a life/death situation? Someone with something to lose? I realise its not fair to expect a film like that, certainly not in this day and age. But it would be nice.

      1. Matthew McKinnon

        Yeahhh…. but there are a lot of films that are almost like that, these days: granted, the stars are more photogenic, but there’s ‘Insidious’, ‘Mama’ and all that sort of thing, families where the parents are in their thirties, and have kids and fight off a threat to the family unit etc. Your present-day children-of-‘Poltergeist’.

        ‘The Babadook’, also was expressly about a woman in her late 30s dealing with horror/parenting issues. I’m sure there’s more. ‘The Possession’ with Jeffrey Dean Morgan?

        And these weren’t carefree teens in perfect middle class American homes: they were quite realistic and grounded. I empathised!

      2. Haven’t seen those (other than Insidious) so I’ll put them on my watchlist. I’ve been tending to avoid many horrors as the genre seemed to have gotten stale to me after all that found-footage stuff swamped the genre a few years ago. I liked the looks of Crimson Peak but reviews were mixed at best and put me off.

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  3. I’ve finally got round to watching this & scheduled my (rather long) review to post later today, so I’ll leave most of my thoughts for there — mainly because I disagree on some points & have written a fuller explanation in my review.

    That said, I think your point that using this premise to examine “promiscuity and women using sex as a weapon (or men abusing women to shake off the curse)” is a good one. I personally thought the movie was going for something else subtextually, but it would’ve been interesting if it (or another film featuring the same threat, like a sequel) to use it as a means to reflect those issues.

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