Sunday, April 17, 2016

It Follows (David Robert Mitchell, 2014)

Instead of knocking them out with a chloroform-soaked rag and then tying them to a wheelchair in an abandoned factory, wouldn't it be easier to enlighten the person you have selected to pass on your venereal curse to with a brochure? I don't know, maybe you can title it: "So, 'It' is Following You." Either way, I think it's the courteous thing to do. At the same time, it's totally selfish as well. You see, in this oddly serene version of Detroit, sexual intercourse can lead to creepy consequences. And these "creepy consequences" can turn deadly... if you don't take certain precautions. Of course, not having sex in the first place is the most reliable method there is when it comes to preventing the consequences from getting creepy. But you try telling a bunch of teenagers to not have sex. Trust me, I've tried. It's damn near impossible. Oh, wait. I haven't tried. Nevertheless, once you have sex with a person who is currently being followed, the following onus is immediately thrust upon you. But don't forget, if you die while being followed, the following onus goes back to the person you had sex with. Meaning, that person should go down to his or her local printing store (is Kinkos still a thing?) and print up some motherfuckin' brochures. Of course, showing the person you "infected" the zombie-esque, scantily-clad monstrosities firsthand can be beneficial as well. But don't underestimate the power of a handsomely made brochure.

(Hold on. Who's following these people?) Um, the title of the movie is It Follows.  In other words, "It" is following them. (Yeah, but what is "It"?) It doesn't really matter what "It" is. All that does matter is that It Follows is one of the most effective horror movies I've seen in years. And when I say "effective," I'm talking about the kind of horror movie that causes you change your behaviour after you see it.

I don't know, there's something inherently unnerving about the sight of a seemingly unending concourse of random strangers slowly walking towards you in a menacing manner. Granted, I didn't need a movie to make me paranoid about people I don't know, but the fact that I looked at folks on the street with more suspicion than usual afterward is a testament to quality of the film-making at work here.

And to think, I was ready, if need be, to unleash a shitload of soliloquies dedicated to this film's star and her first-rate legs. Don't worry, though, the stem-based soliloquies might still be coming (their gestating in my mind as we speak). It's just that the film, written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, doesn't really need me to go off on some unorthodox yet entertaining tangent, as it's a solid slab of John Carpenter-inspired horror goodness. I also noticed bits that seemed inspired by Wes Craven, Frank Henenlotter and David Cronenberg.

To be honest, I was kind of hoping that the film would have been a tad more on the sleazy side (more Brain Damage, less A Nightmare on Elm Street), but the fact that film opens with a leggy... followest? Followian? Followee? ...running down a leafy suburban street in high heel shoes was an excellent omen. Naturally, some people will probably argue that high heel shoes are the most impractical thing a person being followed can wear. I say, balderdash! Besides, you don't know what she doing before she came bursting out of that house. For all we know, her husband/boyfriend/or whoever that guy was (her father, maybe?) might have a fetish for high heels and she was simply indulging him when they were rudely interrupted by an unruly follower.

Anyway, proving that her performance in The Guest was no fluke, Maika Monroe stakes her claim as the queen of horror-based disaffection as Jay Height, the film's primary followee. Unfortunately, unlike The Guest's Anna Peterson, it's not clear if Jay Height likes industrial or goth music. That being said, all her swimming, sex, leggy lounging and following scenes are set to the wonderfully synthy score by Rich Vreeland (Disasterpeace). Seriously, the synth flourishes in this film are amazing.

If you recall my review of The Guest, you might remember that I compared Maika Monroe to Chloë Sevigny. Well, in It Follows she seems to be challenging Brittany Murphy. Wait, that didn't come out right. What I mean is, she looked exactly like Brittany Murphy at times. This especially true during the scenes where she swims in her backyard above ground pool in suburban Detroit. And after the high heeled followee is successfully followed (ouch, that's gotta hurt), this is where we find Maika's Jay Height, floating in her above ground pool, as two little kids watch from the bushes. Ah, pre-pubescent peeping. You don't see that portrayed in movies that much nowadays. But then again, I don't watch as many "new movies" as I used to. Meaning, maybe every other movie has a pre-pubescent peeping scene. I doubt, though, as I hear all movies nowadays are either about superheroes who fight giant armies of CGI robots or live action remakes of cartoons from the 1980s.

Speaking of which. Did you hear that someone made a live action Jem and the Holograms movie? How did this happen? Or more importantly, why wasn't I given 10 million dollars to direct it? It makes no sense. My Jem movie would have been sexy as hell and a box office smash.

I'm sorry, I got off track. After introducing us to Jay's friends, Yara (Olivia Luccardi), who's reading The Idiot, her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and the lovesick Paul (Keir Gilchrist), she prepares to go a series of dates with a guy named Hugh (Jake Weary). The first date, despite an odd incident at an old-timey movie theatre (Charade was the movie playing), goes pretty well. And the second date... uh, not so much. It starts off pleasant enough, except it takes a bit of weird turn post-coitus.

In case you haven't figured it out, Hugh passes his venereal curse onto Jay by having sex with her in the backseat of his car.

Even though Hugh explains what he's done to her (even giving her an enlightening yet terrifying demonstration), Jay's not buying it. And she, or her friends, call the police.

After a close call at school and another one at home (the film's scariest scene), Jay and her friends, including Greg (Daniel Zovatto), a former childhood pal who lives across the street, team up to track down this Hugh fella. While it makes sense to get more information, Hugh, or, I should say, Jeff, told Jay everything she needs to know about the venereal curse the night he gave it to her. The meeting with Hugh/Jeff seems more for the benefit of her friends, who are a tad skeptical that she is being pursued by scantily clad demons who walk at a leisurely pace.

The best way to rid yourself of the followers is to pass it on to someone else. But who do you pass it on to? It's a tough decision, but I totally believed that it's a common dilemma in Detroit, as the cities increasingly people-free landscapes are well-suited for this kind of horror film. Yeah, I realize the curse probably exists outside Metro Detroit. But I like to think curse only effects Detroiters. And besides, the electronic score perfectly represents the city.

It looks great, it sounds great, and it's creepy as fuck, It Follows is, simply put, a new horror movie that doesn't suck. I know, our standards have become so ridiculously low over the last ten years or so, that we heap tons of praise on anything that comes close to being not lame. But I was genuinely impressed with the way this film was put together. And the director's awesome habit of featuring Maika Monroe's legs in almost every scene was a pleasant surprise (Filmed in Scintillating Leg-o-Vision); most modern directors don't even know what the word "legginess" means. I know, what a bunch of weirdos.


  1. And did you notice how the technology in this movie switches around between current technology, obsolete and/or old fashioned technology, and at least one or two mildly futuristic devices?

    1. I liked that clam-shell-shaped compact e-reader.

  2. ONe of my favorite films of 2015, soundtrack is John Carpenter all the way, loved that about it. I know you dont watch a lot of new stuff, but you might also want to check out The Babadook, its another good new one.

    1. Thanks. I'll add The Babadook to my watchlist.