It Follows (2014)

It Follows
Director: David Robert Mitchell
Writer: David Robert Mitchell
Cast: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Bailey Spry, Jake Weary, Daniel Zovatto
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
[Reviews by cornholio and Maynard Morrissey.]

Plot:
Jay (Maika Monroe) has just started to date Hugh (Jake Weary) but after they sleep with each other for the first time, things start to go really wrong: Jay wakes up tied to a chair with a frantic Hugh explaining that he is sorry but he now passed a monster on to her. A monster that isn’t very fast, but it is inexorably coming. And when it reaches her, she is dead. Then he unceremoniously drops her off in front of her house and disappears. Jay is shaken and unsure whether she believes Hugh but soon there is no room left for doubt – and her fight for survival begins.

I really loved the idea of It Follows and the slow, inexorable approach of the monster is wonderfully set in scene and really, really creepy. Unfortunately nothing else about the film worked for me.

it_follows

[SPOILERS]

My biggest problem with the film was its soundtrack. I am not a person who pays overly much attention to them usually (though a particularly nice piece of music will usually catch my ear), but in this case it was so annoying and bad that it repeatedly jarred me out of the movie. Which didn’t help the film’s atmosphere at all and was annoying as hell for me.

It probably also contributed to the lengths the movie had in between. But you can’t blame everything on the soundtrack – especially not how incredibly stupid the protagonists often were (particularly in the showdown or with the high heels in the very first scene), or the plot holes (like – why not give it to somebody who flies to Australia or New Zealand. Until the monster is there, it’s probably years), or the uncalled for amounts of boobies we got to see.

it_follows1I also thought that their solution – to just pass the monster on to a sex worker – was incredibly callous, especially after they spent the entire film arguing about how it was immoral to just sleep with anybody and pass it on. Are sex workers somehow less human and less in need of protection? Apparently so.

At least they avoided to give sex a moral dimension – which they could easily have done. But the moral of the story is never “don’t ever have sex with anybody because then a monster will kill you”. That is something. It’s just not enough to make me like the film.

it_follows2Summarizing: Has interesting bits. But only bits.

11 thoughts on “It Follows (2014)

  1. Two remarks: a) Somehow I don’t remember any boobs in this?!?! b) I don’t think that the sex worker stuff is supposed to tell us that their life is worth less, but that they think that she won’t be threatened by IT, because she’s probably going to pass IT on soon. And even if IT should later fall back on her, with her work, chances are IT will never fall back on them again.

    • a) As I remember it, there were like a million shots down somebody’s cleavage. Maybe I am misremembering it – though I did write it down in my notebook right after the film.

      b) Yeah, I know that they did it because sex workers probably have more sex than other people. But that just means that all their customers get killed off one by one (which isn’t much better) and if they have a slow day, they’ll be the dead ones (which would also mean that it would fall back on them). I mean, not even sex workers have sex 24/7. And that, after all the moral qualms they had before about passing it on to just any random person in a bar, is somehow an ok risk? That shows a real disregard for sex workers (and their customers) as human beings.

      • Again, I think they just tried to find someone who would have less risk of getting killed by IT. I also don’t think that there were ever any big moral qualms either way, be it sex workers or not. IMHO, the movie didn’t delve into that AT ALL. To do so definitely would have improved it.

        And cornerning your second comment and boobs: Of course! I only thought of the victims, and not IT’s different forms. My bad. You’re absolutely right.

        • We’re arguing on different levels. I don’t mean to suggest that Jay and Paul sat down and talked about their shared hatred of sex workers and that it didn’t matter if they died. I’m talking about a cultural narrative about sex workers forsaking personal safety by their choice of job (how much of a choice that job actually is is another discussion). That is shown in the movie’s unquestioned assumption that passing it on to a sex worker is a good solution, without considering them as people who can get hurt.

          Yes, there is no long, philosophical discussion about STD-like monsters in the film. But it is suggested several times to Jay that she could just sleep with anybody at a bar (I remember quite distinctly that she is even told it should be easy for her since she’s a girl – which is pretty offensive to guys everywhere, I think, but that is a whole other issue) and Jay always refusing to do so. While her reasons for that refusal are not completely transparent, I thought it was heavily implied that she didn’t want to draw in an uninvolved person who doesn’t know about the monster after the same thing had been done to her. She also only sleeps with whatever-his-name-was because she thought he could handle it, especially because he already knew about the monster. Not once are any of these concerns raised with the sex workers, definitely not explicitly but I really doubt that it was even implied. I don’t think Paul went there to discuss things with any of the sex workers, let them know what his plan is and ask for her consent to have the monster passed on to her.

          For me all of that is clearly a case not only of looking for an easy way out and away from the monster, but doing so with the least ethical/moral qualms attached. And a sex worker is a double jackpot – has sex a lot and if things still go wrong, they at least are no great loss for society (and neither are their customers. [And that things quite possibly did go wrong is implied in the film’s ending.] And that underlying narrative that – again – I don’t think was a conscious choice, neither on the characters’ nor on the screenwriter’s part, is what I object to.

          • I think you may be reading too far into it. Think about it from the standpoint of the first person who passed it to the main character. You have an investment in that person not dying, so you want someone who will “pass it on” ideally either someone who can do it quickly (he said it because of the main characters looks) and/or someone who is vigilant and won’t get caught unaware. Just passing it to anyone and leaving them ignorant will bring it back on you really quickly. Basically finding someone vigilant, or with an active sex life is the only way to create a buffer for yourself. I also thought it was an interesting lesson on the second guy she slept with. He clearly was just happy to have sex with Maika Monroe’s character even though he didn’t believe in the following entity. They also showed him hitting on someone in the very next scene. There was a touch of moralizing in him meeting his end, but he also served as a lesson in vigilance.

            I also got the idea that the last guy (boyfriend material guy) didn’t actually have sex with the prostitute, but was thinking about it as a way to get out and push it much further down the line.

            The great thing about the film IMHO, is that with some of the scenes, you weren’t sure if it was someone just walking by or if it was the monster.

            I also loved the music, but as a throw back to the 80’s horror films of my youth. I can understand getting annoyed by it.

            You’re idea of getting someone to go to Australia or another continent is great, except that teenagers don’t always have access to people who are globetrotters, although that did come up in the conversation multiple times after the movie in the group that went to see it.

            All in all, it was refreshing to see something unique in horror, and one that treated sex as the downfall, but also salvation in a horror film. Yes you are safe if you never engage in sex, but, the main character has sex with 3 different characters in the movie without the stigma that would normally come with that kind of action. It’s easy to write it off as her “doing what she has to in order to survive.” It was refreshing to not see her labeled as a sl*t either implicitly or explicitly in the movie. Plus there were three or four horror films in the previews that look great coming out soon. Horror is making a comeback I think and it’s evolving for the better IMO.

          • Reading too far (or just far enough?) into things is an occupational hazard when you’re writing reviews.

            I understand that from the point of view of the characters, passing It on to a sex worker is a convenient solution, but I still think that part of that convenience comes from the fact that they are less worried about sex workers as people they are consciously putting in danger. And I think that lack of worry is to do with, on the one hand with the rationalization that they have sex a lot, so they aren’t that much at risk at all [ignoring the danger for the customers] and the view that sex workers – as you put it – are somehow more vigilant than other people, because sex work is a dangerous profession. While that might certainly be true, it makes it look like sex work is inherently dangerous and not our social practices that don’t keep sex workers safe are what makes it so. And passing a STD-monster on to a sex worker is exactly one of those practices where the safety of the suburban teen is put above the safety of a sex worker – and with what right?
            But most importantly, and I know I’m repeating myself, before the sex worker solution, the ethical decision was not to pass it on to a innocent, uninvolved human being – and somehow sex workers are exempt from being innocent, uninvolved human beings and that’s why it’s okay to pass it on to them.

            I was certain that the last guy slept with a sex worker – why else go to them? If he was just thinking about it, there’s no need to drive there to see them personally, right? But I guess you could be right.

            But I agree that it was a nice, fresh take on a monster and that they managed not to make it seem like sex is a bad idea in general and you’re a morally decrepit slut if you engage in it.

      • It had the three instances (2nd guys mother in a robe partial, middle-aged women at first when it’s passed to the main character, and the really weird/scary one of the woman who looked like she’d been in some kind of accident who was also peeing down her leg (what’s with that?)

        They took the middle-aged dude on the roof with the dong hanging out to try to balance it out.

        It was ironic that the only time they went out of their way to not show nudity was during the sex, as if it was some sacred ritual. Music also toned down, to highlight the importance of the act.

          • If it’s not sacred to you you aren’t doing it right :)

            Even if it’s not your favorite new horror film I’m glad they are plowing new ground in some ways at least.

  2. Pingback: Under the Silver Lake (2018) | kalafudra's Stuff

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