Remember kids: Don’t be silly, wrap your willy. OR DIE!
Taking place in the bored suburbs of Detroit, a deadly sexually-transmitted disease is being passed around amongst horny, free-willed teenagers who don’t know what they’re getting themselves into. Which is exactly what happens to Jay (Maika Monroe) when, after a night of fun, dinner, and sex, her date informs her of the tragic news: She has been infected with a disease that will take many forms of people that only she can see and follow her around, until it gets its grip on her, and kills her in graphic, disturbing ways. Apparently, the only way that Jay can stop the disease from doing this to her, is to have sex with somebody and pass it onto them; though it’s not entirely proven that this will get rid of the disease, or even the threat, it’s still something that makes those who infect others, feel better about themselves and free. Jay wants to get rid of the disease, but she doesn’t want to really infect anybody, so instead of dropping her drawers and having sex with some sucker, she decides to fight against the disease. It may, or may not work, but Jay is willing to fight till the end of her days to ensure that she is clear of all disease.
Remember when you were younger and your parents gave you those words of wisdom, “Don’t have sex. And if you do, be smart about it and use protection.” Well, that’s sort of the idea that It Follows is tapping into, except it’s not really trying to say anything smart, ground-breaking, or revolutionary; it’s literally just a story about a deadly STD that gets passed around to a bunch of horny, sex-crazed teenagers who are just exploring their inner-most desires. The movie never tries to judge any of these characters for partaking in these many sexual activities, nor does it seem like it wants to make a note about any sort of real STD’s that are out there today (*cough cough* HIV *cough cough*), and there’s no problem with that.
Why? Because this movie’s freaking scary! That’s why!
And if you’re a horror movie, especially one being released in the year 2015, and still find a way to be scary, then you, my friend, are allowed to do whatever you want. Have sex with my girlfriend; kill my dog; steal my car; rob me; etc. Whatever you please to do to me, it doesn’t matter – as long as you’re effectively scary, then you are basically given free reign and that’s what I am giving it writer/director David Robert Mitchell. Not that he cares if he gets it either way from me, but still, it’s the idea of it.
Anyway, what Mitchell does oh so perfectly well here is that yes, he gives us the scary, but he does so in a way that’s surprisingly inventive, despite not being particularly original. There’s a lot of neat tricks and trades that Mitchell does with his camera that puts us in the same spot as the protagonists and allows for us to see what they see; doesn’t sound like much, I know, but when your general premise is that they’re being creeped-on by a deadly, unknown force that only they themselves can see, it does a lot of damage. Not only does it totally feel like the “it” is coming straight after us, but it puts us right in the driver’s seat of that rush that makes us want to run away with the protagonists to somewhere safe for the time being, in hopes that we’ll be ready for the next time this threat comes creeping up on us.
And what’s so odd about It Follows is that the threat, despite being as clear as day and only able to walk until it comes and kills you, is still effectively terrifying in its own way. Some of this has to do with the fact that Mitchell makes up the rule early on that the “it” is allowed to take any sort of form it wants, which usually leads to it looking like old ladies, or fully naked, menstruating zombies, but also because Mitchell’s score is so odd and screechy, that whenever it comes into play, you can’t help but get involved. Sure, the score feels like it’s borrowing a whole heck of a lot from John Carpenter’s Halloween piece, but it still works because it comes in at the right times and only seems to add more fuel to the fire of what is this movie’s scare-factor. Had the movie not already been as scary as it is, then the score would have come-off as loud, over-bearing and manipulative – but because the movie is already hella scary, the score serves as a nice companion to help making those scares even more compelling and worth while.
Speaking of those scares, Mitchell is a smart enough writer to understand that we don’t need the constant jump-scares to have us jumping in our seats. Like I mentioned before, he utilizes the idea that we know “it” is coming for us, and rather than trying to pull any cheap editing-tricks, he literally just films it so matter-of-factly that it’s subtlety in the fear that we’re supposed to be feeling, is almost so slight, it actually works for the movie, rather than against it. Mitchell doesn’t even go so far as to explain where this disease came from and what exactly happens to you when “it” finally gets its firm grasps on you – all Mitchell tells you is that it will come after you, never leave you alone, and when it finally does get you, will do horrendous, barbaric things to you and your body.
So basically, just don’t get caught by it as all.
I know I’m writing a lot about It Follows, but that in and of itself is a bit delight for me. It’s so very rare that I see a horror movie that not only scares the hell out of me, but actually seems like it’s trying to build something of a story altogether, too. Sure, the characters are a bit weak and underdeveloped, but then again, they don’t necessarily have to be in order to service this movie; all they have to do is have that want and dire need for sex, and they’re just fine. And because the movie doesn’t judge any single one of these characters for having sex, or even deciding to pass the disease around, mostly everyone here comes off sympathetic and relatable.
Cause honestly, who can ever forget a time when they weren’t sexually-charged in some way, or fashion? We were all teenagers once and when you’re at that time in your life, all your thinking about is sex. No matter where you at, or what you’re doing – sex is constantly on your mind. If people try to tell you otherwise, then they’re gosh darn liars that just never got that chance to have sex after Junior Prom with their hot date. It Follows knows that each and everyone of these characters are, for the most part, thinking about sex just about everywhere they go and because of that, the danger lurks everywhere.
How long before this STD grows larger and larger? In fact, how many more people does it have to kill before people get the hint to either use protection, keep a better watch over yourself, or just cut out sex altogether? Also, when will people stop spreading it onto others so that when they don’t have to deal with it, they get to feel better about themselves and their day-to-day happiness, where the other person feels like absolute crap because of the one instance of physical action had to happen?
Hey, wait a minute? I thought this wasn’t an HIV allegory!
Consensus: Without trying too hard at all, It Follows is one of the more effective, terrifying and, believe it or not, thoughtful horror movies to come out in recent time that doesn’t rely on a gimmick, or a conceit – just unabashed, unadulterated scares to remind you of the possible dangers of sex.
9 / 10