Casual Rambling
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Casual Rambling

Movie Review: It Follows

Rating: 3 Stars

from Slashfilm.com

NBC’s streaming service, Peacock, is featuring a Halloween themed horror movie library for the month of October. The first film on the list was, It Follows, which was a 2014 film I was intrigued by for its premise.

from IMDB.com

The “It”, a nondescript person who can only be seen by those infected, walks slowly toward you until they catch and brutally maul you. How do you get infected? Well, have sex with someone that’s already infected, of course!

This premise in the hands of a lesser director and writer would more than likely be a fatuous comedic farce. David Robert Mitchell is taking his material seriously though as he is the writer and director of It Follows, his first major film. Mitchell doesn’t have a story that would be near considered the pinnacle of horror cinema, but he works well within the horror genre confines to deliver a suspenseful horror experience.

It Follows is especially effective for those with high anxiety and paranoia. Basically me. The idea of being constantly followed by a silent killer that can assume any human form doesn’t sound all too appealing. Maika Monroe plays Jay, who is the main subject that gets followed for a majority of the film.

Jay is given the… infection? I guess you’d call it that after she is chloroformed and raped by the guy she’s dating, Hugh. Hugh does this intentionally to tie Jay into a wheelchair and have her witness that she will be followed and to inform Jay that the only way to pass on this infection is to sleep with someone else. There’s an obvious moral quandary here that would be way too much for Mitchell to try and undertake so he mostly avoids it as it would detract from the point of the film.

Jay’s sister and friends attribute the story that Hugh tells as a sinister lie but it’s not long before Jay discovers she is being followed. The “It” is invisible to everyone except those infected, but does affect the physical environment so when windows are smashed and doors are knocked on, everyone can hear it. Jay’s friends quickly discover there is something supernatural going after her but debate as to what it actually is. Jay’s friends track down Hugh, which turns out not to be his real name, to verify what’s really going on.

Mitchell doesn’t delve into the specifics of the It like a captive horror audience would want him to. There is no telling about It’s origin. There’s no inflection to what It’s purpose is or why It has the need to kill everyone that sleeps with each other.

The suspected analogy is that It is a manifestation of sexually transmitted infections if STI’s became a horror creature with an unquenched thirst for human blood. But Mitchell’s direction doesn’t suggest this is a PSA for unsafe sex. Mitchell’s intentions are on delivering suspenseful cinematography than anything else.

This is where I have high praise for It Follows. As I said before, to a seasoned horror movie-goer, It Follows may not scare you. Mitchell, thankfully for my sake, isn’t keen on jump scares to make the It frightening. There’s plenty of potential for reliance on cheap scares considering the It is always following Jay. Jay could’ve been walking around a corner of a hallway and It could’ve appeared right in front of her face and go, “aboogity woogity woo”.

Mitchell’s favorite camera shot was a 360-degree pan that scanned an entire room until the camera came steady back to its subject. Mitchell also left the camera frozen on still shots of windows and wide backgrounds where the viewer is asked to constantly look behind Jay’s back for the sign of a walking figure. I bit every time scouring the frame for a sign of the monster.

The inevitably that It will always come after Jay is an effective tool for a tense atmosphere that It Follows rides for its entire runtime. Mitchell isn’t trying to subvert the viewers' expectations. The It will continue following Jay until she and her friends can devise a plan to stop it. The dilemma is does Jay pass on the infection through intercourse or is there a way to kill the It? If the It kills someone that’s infected, it will then return to following the previously infected person until assumedly it returns to patient zero.

Mitchell leaves up most of the hypotheticals to viewer interpretation which I would admit is the right directorial choice. The more you try to explain the It, the more inevitable plotholes you open up. Mitchell is more concerned with living within the mental space of Jay who has to deal with the constant trauma of being followed. Maika Monroe is up to the task of being traumatized.

There are shots and scenes that drag out the film an extra ten to fifteen minutes longer than it needs to be. Mitchell exercises the muscle of patience but my patience wore thin at times waiting for the plot to progress, especially around the halfway mark of the film.

The soundtrack choice is unusual. There’s a weird 90’s video game vibe to several scores during the film.

The takeaway is that It Follows had the potential to be a movie that made a mockery of its concept. We call this the Saw or Final Destination syndrome. Ironically, if It Follows featured a wide cast of characters having sex with each other and then being picked off in gruesome fashion, there would be potential for the movie to be a franchise like those named above.

It Follows isn’t for the “what if” crowd. You know that horror crowd that nonstop berates the characters for their decision making. Though I would definitely be interested in what the answer would be if Jay did move to a different continent, by what means would It transport itself to Jay’s new location?

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J. King

J. King

Not your average Medium rambler