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It Follows

tn_itfollowsIT FOLLOWS seems to be the horror hit of the season, rightfully praised for its clever premise, excellent cast and effective indie drama type naturalism. As usual I don’t think it’s as bone-chillingly spookerific or as powerfully groundbreaking as the “I don’t normally like horror movies but this is the greatest horror movie of all time” crowd, but that’s okay. They picked a pretty good one to flip out over. And maybe my respect for it will go up if somebody can convince me that it’s as about something as it seems like it might be.

If you haven’t heard, the college age kids of IT FOLLOWS are experiencing a sexually transmitted haunting. You get it on with the wrong person, next thing you know you start seeing… something following you all the time. Sometimes it looks like a creepy stranger. Sometimes, from the looks of it, murder victims (previously followed people?). But sometimes it’s just some dude standing on the roof with his dick out. And then sometimes it’s your mom. It’s fucked up.

Wait a minute, what if they saw it and they thought it really was their mom? “Hey Mom, what are you doing out here? Did you get my text about the student lo–”

Our lead victim here is Jay, played by Maika Monroe, who was so good as the daughter in THE GUEST. She’s been seeing what seems like a nice enough boy (he takes her on a date to see CHARADE at an old timey movie house, at least) but after some of the old fashioned car sex he, uh, chloroforms her and ties her to a wheelchair and explains the rules to her. It follows, and you gotta run. You don’t want that thing to touch you. Or to jump your bones literally and/or figuratively, ’cause that’ll kill you.

The thing is, all you gotta do to get rid of it is fuck somebody. (Not sure if oral counts.) That doesn’t just spread it, it transfers it. Passes the baton. Trouble is if that person gets tagged by It then It will come back for you, and on down the line until… I don’t know, it’s following some dead caveman? It’s not really clear. Maybe we’ll find out the end game if they make ITS FOLLOW.

mp_itfollowsJay’s group of friends include her younger sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and her friends Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and Yara (Olivia Luccardi). This is an unusual group of horror protagonists in that they never fight. They all get along and support each other, there’s no bitchy friend or bratty older sibling who has to be won over to their cause.

My favorite is Yara, who wears Velma-from-Scooby-Doo type glasses and usually seems tired and uninterested, like she just does not give a fuck about anything. But she must, because she sticks with them through all this. She might be a new character type, a hot girl but pretty gross. She makes them listen to her fart, falls asleep in the car with junk food all over her, loudly chews a sandwich while doing an important book-reading, and I’m guessing doesn’t wear deodorant, although that is not specified in the text.

Director David Robert Mitchell previously did THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER, and having a modern indie style is a plus. The characters all look and act more natural, more real than in many of the teen horror movies I still love. In the old days you had to accept that actors who looked around 30 were playing younger, while these actors I at first assumed were still teenagers before they said Jay was 21.

Most of the horror business is executed very well. Before the “creepy blank person walking slowly toward us” thing can get too old they switch it up so we’re not always seeing her perspective, now we see it like her friends do, that there as an invisible person attacking. This makes for some cool set pieces where she has to keep telling her friends where It is, a fun use of the left-to-the-imagination approach to horror. It also reminded me of those occasional bits in A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET when we’re outside of the dream world seeing the sleeping victim being attacked.

There’s plenty of stuff that’s reminiscent of HALLOWEEN, including some of the music and some shots (steadicam of the girls walking through their neighborhoods, Jay in class looking out the window at a stranger watching from across the street) that are clearly modeled on it. Also the almost complete absense of parents seems HALLOWEEN-esque (or Peanuts – would’ve been cool to hear them talking in that trombone voice). It never feels like a HALLOWEEN wannabe, though, because storywise it’s a totally different type of horror movie, and because that’s a type of camera-work that I love, that is particularly effective in horror movies, and that is sorely lacking in modern cinema. (Though I gotta admit that there could be a good reason for that: long sideways pans strobe on digital projectors. An argument for V.O.D. I guess.)

Admittedly it felt a little anticlimactic to me, and not because it’s inconclusive. ENDING SPOILERS THIS PARAGRAPH ONLY MY FRIENDS. In retrospect it makes sense: Paul passes it on to a hooker, and probly immediately to a john, and hopefully further after that. And they realize that’s the best they can do is push it along and then spend the rest of their lives worrying about it coming back. But I guess it’s just structurally weird. The swimming pool scene feels like a final showdown at first, except it didn’t seem like they’d done anything different. They’d already shot It with a gun earlier. The theory that electrocution would kill it seems spurious too but it was a cool idea to try it. When they couldn’t do it it felt like okay, now they have to regroup and try something else, but then it was over. It feels like it could’ve used an ELM STREET style fake ending first, everything seems fixed and then oh shit, It Follows again, and then the cool unresolved ending. I don’t know.

There’s a recent trend of horror movies with analog synth scores inspired by John Carpenter and other ’70s and ’80s low budget movies. The MANIAC remake and THE GUEST come to mind. I love this type of music so I’m a sucker for it, and I think this one (by somebody named Disasterpeace) is probly the best of the recent ones. But there’s also some defensive part of my brain that feels like I’m being manipulated with all this nostalgia. This one has a less common trick, an indistinct time period like an old Tim Burton movie. All the furniture, decor, phones and rabbit-ear-antenna TVs are early ’80s, late ’70s style, probly inspired by the director’s childhood basement, but one of the characters has a cool clamshell pocket mirror style e-reader. It’s kind of a clever way to pander to us grown up horror fans without losing the real audience. It doesn’t go full-on period piece like HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, but it stimulates that “remember what it was like to be a teenager?” area of the brain instead of the “get off my lawn/look at these dumb kids and their reality TV and their hashtags and what not” one that some of the slicker modern teen horror ones do.

But in a way this fake ’80s reminds me of something about the real ’80s, which is that the Baby Boomers funneled their nostalgia for stuff from when they were growing up into stuff that this generation was growing up on. That we keep seeing Paul staying up late watching ’50s b-movies seems less like a reference to those b-movies than a reference to the ’70s and ’80s movies (including HALLOWEEN) referencing those movies by having them on TVs. Hand-me-down nostalgia.

But the aspect of the movie that catches my attention the most is the subtext, because I can’t decode it. It’s an interesting movie because it seems like it’s supposed to be about something, but I’m not completely clear on what. Since the curse is sexually transmitted there’s that old “it’s about AIDS” thing people love to say about horror movies, but if so that’s pretty dumb. First of all, what would it be saying about AIDS and other STDs? That there is such a thing? I don’t think that’s very good subtext, I think I need more than that. More importantly, the analogy just doesn’t fit well at all. You get the curse by having sex but that’s also how you get rid of it. It’s like THE RING or THE BOX, the interesting part is the moral quandary of being able to save your own ass only by passing the problem to someone else.

Leaving the theater I heard a couple trying to decide whether they liked it or not based on whether or not it was “sex shaming.” I think I like it either way, but I definitely question what it’s saying. On one hand, it is a very effective literalization of this “sex = death” theme that is such a horror tradition and point of contention. You can’t deny an undercurrent of “stay away from penises or you are in HUGE trouble, girls.” The fear is of the consequences of having sex.

But what consequences is it referring to? Warts? Babies? The analogy doesn’t really hold up, because you don’t get rid of a disease by giving it to someone else. Maybe a baby. But you don’t have to spend your whole life looking over your shoulder because you had sex one time in your twenties. The protagonist isn’t a guy so we can’t say it’s about the fear of finding out you have kids you didn’t know about.

The good news though is this is a horror movie where the female protagonist gets to have sex with three different dudes without being judged by the movie for it, or even accused of being a skank by other characters. I’m no database but I’m pretty sure this has never happened in a horror movie ever before. So even if it is “sex = death” it’s looking at it from an unusually sympathetic angle. It’s not following the buttoned-up goodie two shoes (or the virgin, if you believe SCREAM) while the sexually active people get slaughtered. The sex = death is not exemplified by a trail of victims offed throughout the movie, but by the heroine and her ongoing struggle.

The closest to a convincing interpretation I’ve heard is that it’s just about the fear of growing up. Adulthood is scary and once you get into it you spend the rest of your life fuckin worrying. And it temporarily helps to have sex with strangers? I don’t know.

But I think that’s why the movie (which I saw a couple weeks ago) has stuck with me more than some do. Whether it meant to or not it left me with something to chew on. And for the most part IT FOLLOWS is an effective and skillfully directed horror movie. I’m down.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 at 12:06 pm and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

110 Responses to “It Follows”

  1. Very good movie. I think it’s really just about mortality, and learning to live with that inevitability. The IT of the movie is really just a personification of that concept, your death is always creeping towards you no matter where you are. SPOILER – The last shot suggests that the characters have rightly learned that the only answer is to just live your life and enjoy it in the moment, and not worry about the inevitability – SPOILER.

  2. I thought this movie was insanely repetitive – how many shots of a person in the distance walking slowly towards our protagonists is it going to have? There must 40 of those shots in the movie. Also, that the Follower can seemingly stopped by closed doors makes some of the scenes feel more than a little absurd. In fact, both of the more set-piece type sequences (the one on the beach and the one by pool – hey wait, maybe it’s a metaphor about the universal fear of drowning?) are totally cheesy, just completely laughable and not even slightly scary. When the invisible Follower punches the kid and he goes flying off screen, it looks like some shit from the Paul Blart preview.

    I think this movie basically figured out a single cool trick (i.e. people walking slowly into frame is scary, especially with a little misdirection to make it pop) but had literally nothing else on its mind. It’s totally empty and hits the same note over and over and over and over. I’m actually more interested in seeing a sequel that fleshes out some of the ideas and isn’t so shallow and vague – one that figures out what to do with the metaphor and has an ending that isn’t so weak. It’s a cool concept, but they did basically as little as humanly possible with it…

  3. I loved this movie and agree that the Disasterpeace score may be my favorite of the synth style 80s revival scores we’ve been getting lately.

    And I read an interview a little while ago with the writer/director in which he said the “It” really doesn’t have anything to do with sex, it is more just a sense of oppressive doom that can’t be shaken, like if someone fixates on their own death and constantly worries about it. This story idea came directly from a recurring nightmare he had when he was a kis about this very thing, being followed by some unknown yet clearly evil entity. I think the “sex” aspect was probably just the most interesting way he could think of having this thing get passed along in the story, and I think it plays well into the whole “sexually active teens get punished in horror movies” trope that we all know and love.

    So yeah, it’s just death, coming for us at all times, and we can do our best to put separation between ourselves and it, but we all know deep down inside that it is going to catch up to us one day, no matter what.

    Also the ending threw me off initially, I also thought it ended in a bizarre spot, but then the more I thought about it the more it made sense to me, and now I kinda love the ending.

  4. I think we’re on the same page in terms of putting this in the solid “Like, glad I saw this” category rather than the “ZOMG AMAMAZING” category, and I liked that it kept things pretty ambiguous after the initial rules breakdown.

    As for themes, one I kept thinking about after was this whole idea of being “sheltered” (which ties close to your thoughts on growing up I think) and how/if you break out of that. Jay has that little monologue about imagining going places when you’re younger, another character has a thing about how they weren’t allowed to travel into Detroit proper growing up without their parent’s permission. It kind of reminded me of a John Hughes movie (I’ve seen this a few other places too) but with this undercurrent of frustration underneath it. I think the slightly older characters in the friend group are just out of high school too, like going to community college. What do you do when the magic John Hughes teen years are over?

  5. Chiming in with support for the IT being inevitable death we all face. The sex is related to coming of age but not the death part other than I think people find this transformative expectation as teens that having sex makes you an adult and so on but the real adulthood is the realization that you are mortal. FOR GODS SAKE SPOILERS. I don’t think Paul gave the IT to the prostitutes. I think by both being able to see IT coming they can adjust their lives to keeping on the move. Bigger question was did Jay do the guys on the boat or just consider it? I’m a fan of the ambiguity here. Good stuff and a nice change for horror movie discussions. Not as scary as it was advertised but still really atmospheric.

  6. I agree about the “It’s about something but I don’t know what” idea. It has just enough ambiguity in its various elements to allow you to analyze it in a lot of different ways, but the film doesn’t seem to wholly support any of them at the same time. One thing I noticed some reviews point out is the film’s focus on urban decay and poverty ala CANDYMAN, so it’s easy to see how “It” could be connected to that in some way, like some of its forms seemed based on that (the first time it’s in her house, where it looked like a prostitute peeing itself, for example), but then you see at other times it’s someone’s mom, and it appears to fuck them to death, so it’s like, which metaphor sticks better, urban decay, or the STD thing, or maybe it’s a fear of growing up. They all (and more) kinda fit, but none feel fully explored. I guess that’s my problem with the whole “there are multiple interpretations” thing, it sometimes feels like a bit of a pretentious cop-out on the part of the director.

    It kinda makes me think of FRANKENSTEIN, which is similar in how seemingly every theory under the sun can be applied to it, but Frankenstein is so thorough that you can convincingly apply a lot of different readings to it, where as with this it feels like you can only apply these readings up to a point. That said, I would like to see it again and maybe find some more thorough analyses of it. It’s possible that the various theories are supported more heavily than I was able to realize on only a single viewing. And there were a lot of other little things I noticed and liked but didn’t think too much of, like how the film implied that her mother was an alcoholic.

    Of course, all that said, I did really enjoy it. The aesthetics of it were on point, from the camera work and music to the anachronistic set design and costumes. There’s a quote from one of the trailers along the lines of “It’s like an urban legend you’ve known all your life” and that’s the exact feeling I get from it. It’s like the best of those short internet horror stories that used to be really popular. They’re vague in this way that makes them feel like they could take place anywhere, and that makes them way scarier. I also loved the classic “Teens ganging up to take on a supernatural force” kinda storyline that doesn’t really seem to happen so much anymore. My audience didn’t have such a good time though. Heard one group of people in particular sighing a lot, and saying things like “This is the most boring movie ever” and they asked if it was over yet only fifteen minutes in!

  7. Love this movie. I’m ok with the underlying metaphor being slippery because it keeps you alert and unsettled (or, more alert – you find yourself watching for It throughout.) Also, because the filmatism is so sharp, it’s easy to believe that there is an underlying answer that we and the characters aren’t fully getting but the filmator is. Really happy Vern mentioned that the movie *doesn’t* finger-wag about sex; it’s refreshing, and one of the ways that expectations can’t be clung to for a sense of security.

  8. Agreed that the metaphor here is death, not sex. I saw a class analysis here

  9. Goddammit, I hate typing on my phone. Anyway. There’s a class analysis here, albeit an understated one. The kid who passes the curse along is rich, unlike the protagonists. And that gives him freedom to deal with it… Rent a house, romance his victims, etc. And so, just like with death, poor folks have less ability to evade the monster, and have to spend more time dealing with the consequences.

  10. I usually do not come down this harsh on movies, but I really did not like this one. I was looking forward to it after loving recent genre movies “The Guest”, “The Babadook”, and “Blue Ruin”, but whereas those were tightly scripted and ran with their concepts in exciting directions, this one felt so meandering, flabby, and half-assed in comparison. It didn’t work for me viscerally in terms of scares, and intellectually there’s actually not much going on, which leaves me with nothing. I thought the characters were really bland – reminding me of Twilight through and indie film filter. The person I saw it was thinking maybe we were supposed to empathize with the monster. The anticlimatic pool setpiece seems like the director got to use a cool location and struggled to figure out what to do with it. Why did that kid have so much faith that electrocuting it would work to risk creating this final showdown scenario? There are so many things you could do with the central idea that the film-maker comes across as pretty uncreative – for instance, you could subvert the scary monster into a tool by fucking people you don’t like is one. Can you just keep passing it between two people and avoid it that way? The thing is on-foot, so it can maybe do 30 miles in a day? You could buy yourself so much time in a car, or by taking a flight across the country. There are ideas that pop up – like, the monster taking on the appearance of parents a couple of times … that could have been an interesting idea to explore, but no. At the end it seems like they don’t know how to end it, so they throw in the bit with the girl reading in the hospital to maybe make you think it’s a metaphor for mortality … again, it just feels very half-assed. I’m down for mindless movies, but when they’re not exciting and the basic actions of the characters make you have to make leaps to grasp, there’s a problem.

    The staging of some of the scenes felt like regurgitations of the Halloween style that it became distracting for me, rather than invoking some warm nostalgia. The bombed-out Detroit locations near the end were great though – I wish that was utilized more. That provided atmosphere that didn’t feel borrowed from other, better films.

    I love the music of John Carpenter and Fabio Frizzi, but I was not feeling this score. There are a couple of highlights, but it is just is so inappropriately bombastic throughout the entire movie regardless of what’s actually happening on-screen. Carpenter stuck to a few themes and stingers and brought them in at the right moments in his films, but here it just feels so senseless, making the most vacant lines seem like there’s supposed to be some depth. The clumsy playing during the pointless mirror scene stands out as a low point.

    In addition to the more recent movies I mentioned in my first paragraph, this flick made me want to re-watch Sole Survivor (1982) again. That has a similar idea of a character dealing with impending doom, but I thought it was actually really creepy, clever, and with interesting characters. I feel like I’m in the minority of hating this movie – it reminds me of my feelings after seeing American Beauty in the theatre.

    Sorry for the rushed, rambling nature of this post, things are kinda busy over here right now

  11. What excellent timing, I just returned from a screening. Put me in “liked it” column too, and I get Vern’s sense of feeling like one hasn’t completely got a grasp of its “meaning” or whatever. But generally I’m okay with it having many interpretations because it’s a part of art, good or bad. You know, it’s not a puzzle or game that can be definitively won or unlocked with one true meaning, no matter what someone on the internet tells you. But anyhow, I applaud the movie’s craft. the decay of Detroit does photograph well, that’s two times now by my viewing, after Jim Jarmusch’s THE ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE.

  12. The Original Paul

    April 7th, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Yeah, I kinda avoided this one, and for a rather silly reason perhaps – I had nobody to go see it with at the time, and I didn’t want to be the only older guy in a movie about teenage female sexuality. A pity ’cause it did look good. I didn’t realise it was Maika Monroe either. Glad to see she’s gone from strength to strength after the very good THE GUEST. I was worried she’d get stuck in the career-ending rut of bad horror remakes.

    I did just see my second movie of the year in the cinema. Yep, that’s one for every two months so far this year. Guess I’m not going to be beating my record from 2012 any time soon. Anyway, the movie I saw was rather good, but I don’t want to derail this thread with talk of a whole other movie (at least, not until most people are done with this one). The spambots seem to have taken over the forums right now as well. I’ll try and find somewhere to post anyhow.

    (Also I replied to that MAGIC MAGIC thread in the forums recently, if anybody else who posted there wants to dig that one out. You’ll have to go past about six hundred and ninety pages of spam to find it I believe.)

  13. flyingguillotine

    April 7th, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    I think this is also a movie about introducing the concept of mortality to characters who are way too young to already be thinking about it. When you get to a certain age, it slowly (like a slowly-walking it thing) settles on you that death will eventually show up… You don’t know when or how, but it’s unavoidable.

    But you don’t really think about that stuff when you’re, say, nineteen. Sure, you’re aware people can die, but it’s more of a freak accident type deal at that age, or something that happens to grandma.

    This movie is special because it doesn’t just kill the characters; it makes them realize deep in their psyches, way before it happens, that they are going to die.

  14. Just saw this today. I liked it a lot as it went along, but there’s really no payoff. The concept is established, possible variations are suggested and then not expanded upon, and then it ends with one of those predictably unpredictable slam cuts to black that all the hipster horror movies have nowadays.

    I thought the vagueness of the storytelling toward the end read less like conscious ambiguity and more like moral wishy-washiness. If you don’t show any of our protagonists knowingly passing IT on to a stranger with the full knowledge that it probably signs their death warrant, then you don’t have to worry about the audience finding them unsympathetic. Which is bullshit, because you’d think that would be the tense part of the story, when our heroes are so desperate that they’re willing to do anything to survive. They kept going right up to the edge and then backing off with some elliptical editing. There were so many things you could do with this concept that would really make people uncomfortable (“I’m sorry, but I have to rape you to survive” is a pretty horrifying scenario from both sides, for instance), but the whole sex angle actually seemed pretty tangential to the horror, which was your basic zombie creeping death crossed with a ghost story. IT could have been passed on with a bite and not much would have changed. I think that’s why the subtext is so hard to parse, because the main button the plot is pushing doesn’t really mean affect the story.

    So yeah. This one’s cool in the moment but I think somebody took it out of the oven before it was fully done baking. It could end up being a PURGE-type situation, where the first one just introduces the idea and then the sequel actually does something with it.

  15. All teen slasher movies are about subconscious adolescent fear of premature death. Teenage life is the frequent focus of the genre because (beyond commercial prospects of who sees these movies) there’s a now-or-never attitude in those years (“If I don’t get asked to prom, I’ll never be happy,” “If I don’t have sex tonight, I’ll never have sex,” etc.)

    IT FOLLOWS just underlines that subtext more than usual. It didn’t do a whole lot for me.

  16. Majestyk, as someone who feels frustrated by this movie I think you articulated some of my issues with it.
    I just rewatched “You’re Next”, which isn’t as good as “The Guest” but still a satisfying, fun flick … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Voa_7sLL7dQ

  17. Yeah, now that Majestyk has pointed it out, the sleight of hand it pulls with the whole “eh, they’re just whores who cares if they die?” move is kinda repulsive. Overall, the characters are so thinly sketched it’s tough to feel one way or the other about them. Some desperation would have been nice – the ol’ moral character revealed through tough choices.

    Also, the more I think about it, the more I can see the film ripping off a ton from Kiyoshi Kurosawa, specifically the zombie-ghosts of Pulse. Those shots of the Followers stumbling slowly towards the camera are straight out of that movie. In general, I think this movie is way more exciting for non-horror fans who aren’t tired of these tropes – I’m just so bored by referential horror at this point. I love Carpenter’s music, I’m not interested in hearing yet another soundtrack imitate it. I love Japanese creeping dread movies, I’m not interested in seeing yet another American rip-off. I love Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street, I’m not super thrilled to see derivative updates. I’m not squealing that they use the Nightmare fonts in the ads the way guys like Ti West and Adam Green seem to live for that sort of thing.

    Do your own things kids, push things forward, stop looking backwards so much! Goes to show you, nostalgia is for the young…

  18. The Original... Paul

    April 8th, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Well, I did it. Here’s a brief mostly spoiler-free write-up of COHERENCE, which if you haven’t heard of it (and chances are good you haven’t), is a pretty good low-budget sci-fi horror movie set mostly at a dinner party. I’m posting the link here because, let’s face it, if I don’t link to a forum post, nobody’s gonna see it nowadays.


    Ok, thanks for reading. Please go back to discussing IT FOLLOWS.

    PS – Chemical Burn – I get your point, but what would you rather see: a film that rips off KAIRO, or a film that rips off the MY BLOODY VALENTINE remake? It’s not as much of a Hobson’s Choice as it sounds y’know.

  19. After reading so many positive things about this one, it turned out to be disappointing. The main problem being that there’s no history, no mythology to the story. We don’t hear any news reports, see any microfiche of old murders, or hear any parents or police talking about someone being murdered by an unseen assailant in a crowded park or classroom or what have you. It really undercuts the movie, especially when taken with the very first scene. The girl goes from her neighborhood to the lonely beach where she is murdered. Now which is scarier, being murdered on a lonely beach or being murdered in front of your family and neighbors? In fact, because of the very first scene, I never once thought that she would be killed in front of her classroom or at a family bbq or something. Tension gone. And is she supposed to have banged those three guys on a boat? Because if they were all murdered, we hear nothing about that either, the ghoul just shows up again the next day or whatever. Completely pointless scene.
    And when she is attacked it was ridiculous, like someone mentioned earlier. Is she being attacked by a ghost, a ghoul, or an invisible terminator type? Cause when it starts pulling hair and throwing toasters I couldn’t help but shake my head. I don’t think the movie even knows what the ghoul is.
    I also thought the score was great, BUT not for this movie. It was distracting as hell. Good acting and camerawork though.

  20. Hey gang, I need help to settle a debate with my Girlfriend. The question is would a Deadfall/Tiger Trap work on the It? Or is It too smart/not kill-able enough for that trick?

  21. I have to say I really like the pool set-piece. It’s exactly the kind of dumb idea a bunch of kids would come up with to try, and I love the way it backfires on them.

    As for the ending, it grows on me. It felt abrupt at the time, but it works thematically, and its a good ambiguous note to end on.

    Its true there’s a lot more exploration you could do with the concept, but I think they are wise to stay away from that stuff, because it just shines a light on how ridiculous it is (and you just start brainstorming crazy things like banging someone in Australia, then coming back to the US, calculating the walking speed of IT, setting a timer, fly to Australia again before it runs out, rinse-repeat).

  22. So IT FOLLOWZ or IT FOLLOW2 for the sequel is too obvious?

  23. The more I read reactions to this movie, the more it seems like a Rorschach test. Characters that are less than dynamic but recognizable and worthy of empathy to me are just thin to others. (If you look upon It as representing not as much premature death but fear of the inevitable passing from suburban adolescence to the unknown but expectedly harsher world of adulthood, these kids are unformed and drifting by design. This interp fits when wondering “What’s the deal with the ruins of Detroit?” or “Why is sex the vessel?”) Some folks think the It and Its rules are sketchy; I’d argue we’re given enough to put us in the shoes of the kids who have to figure out most of the rules as they go. But if the movie about the unknown is going to ask the viewer to fill in gaps, it’s probably going to really turn on people who think they’re tuned in and really turn off people who can’t pull in a strong signal (which can’t even be proven to exist.)

    Part of me wants to burp out responses to specific criticisms. But more than with most movies, one individual’s takes aren’t a solid replacement for the experience of coming up with one’s own. More questions, though, I’m happy to throw out: Why is the kids’ card game of choice Old Maid? What do you make of the anticlimax after the kids track down the guy who passed It onto Jay? If the purpose of the boat scene is obscure, what do you make of the Jay-drowns-a-bug passage near the beginning in the backyard pool? How did you feel about Paul finally getting to pair off with Jay? How do you think Jay feels about it? How long is it going to last? What happens if/when it doesn’t? The questions this movie provokes are more interesting than the certainties most other ones lay out.

  24. I haven’t seen a movie and immediately wanted to write the sequel/remake this much since the first time I saw WestWorld.

    There is a lot of interesting stuff you could do with tracing the origin of the curse by way of examining details of the ghost forms it takes.

    Also *SPOILERS* The film pretty heavily implies that the hero kid did sleep with the hooker and that it just didn’t work. The girl also screwed the two dudes on the boat… but they ended up dead soon too. The complex part is, if you don’t explain what the fuck is going on to the person you pass the curse to, that person is going to be dead very quickly. So, you can have a random one night stand, but the likelihood of that actually working to protect you is minimal.

    I would have added another element — you can’t pass the curse through casual sex. It only works if it’s passed to someone you sincerely love.

  25. Tawdry sparked a question: If Jay had group sex with the guys on the boat, would everyone involved catch It?

  26. I assumed it just passed on to whoever went first.

  27. Possibilities for a line of bastardized sequels are endless:

    What about a necrophiliac transferring It?

    What if an It victim breaks into the porn industry?

    What if you capture your jizz in a turkey baster and then insert it/It into a sleeping woman?

    What if a rapist pedophile transmits It via sex with a minor?

    What if Florida Man transfers It to a sheep?

    What if an inmate with It following him/her gets gangraped in prison?

    What if an It target allows a pair or trio of sex partners to double-penetrate or triple-penetrate and they climax simultaneously into the It girl/guy’s respective orifices?

    What if a mental patient already previously suffering from hallucinations becomes an It victim?

    What if an It victim gets revived in the hospital?

    What if It is transmitted to a pregnant woman?
    What if she was pregnant with twins?

    What if It is transmitted to a zombie?
    What about conjoined twin zombies?

    Okay no, that last idea is just stupid, sorry.

  28. Mouth raises good question – what is exact nature of the “sex” required to transfer it? Does it have to be to climax? Is oral sex enough? Are homosexuals immune – if it’s penis-in-vagina sex only, they must be right? Or can it be transferred via sex toys? Did the curse in fact originate with an ancient haunted vibrator? Could they close the circle by raping the Follower?

  29. I’m not generally fond of rape jokes. But that last line is a doozy, chem.

  30. “But what consequences is it referring to? Warts? Babies? ”

    It is the act of growing up. You never get rid of it, you just include others in the chain of having to look over your shoulder at all of the responsibilities you’ve evaded, regrets you’ve accumulated, etc. At the end, they contrast the two followeds’ apartness and burden with carefreer folk.

    I think for a lot of people, growing up means wandering down an increasingly tangled and psychologically frought path. Remember, the first boyfriend figure wants to trade places with the wide eyed kid.

    But regardless of my interpretation, I think that the impulse to fit shit into a tidy metaphor is, like Fury Road, secondary to the utter mastery of form this film displays. Just the prologue and it’s efficient portrayal of a fleeting protagonist’s despairing resignation and horrific demise and what a cunning roadmap this provides the rest of the story. For me the movie takes the zombie genre’s most compelling and brutal element — inevitability — and gets tremendous mileage out of it both in terms of scare value and emotional resonance.

    Best horror movie since House of the Devil.

  31. Maybe the trick with these indie-horror movies is to wait and be part of the backlash to the backlash, because after the relative disappointments of “why won’t people shut up about these movies” like Cabin in the Woods, You’re Next, Kill List, The Sacrament, Starry Eyes, The Guest, and The Babadook (whew!) I’m shocked, SHOCKED that I actually like this movie more than most people I know. I found it downright amazing to be honest. The filmatism is great, the acting is good, the fake-Carpenter synth score (which I’m kind of getting tired of to be honest) works well enough. I love the group of friends and the fact that they believe the heroine relatively quickly and pitch in to help her defeat It, no questions asked. It’s kind of sweet.

    The theme, whatever it is, is certainly muddled, especially b/c the very premise invites speculation as to what it’s trying to say about sex and STD’s. (Doesn’t help that we live in a bloggified culture now where everyone has to have a thinkpiece about the hidden meanings behind every single thing at all times). It Follows works best when stripped of that and viewed as a modern-day Nightmare on Elm Street – a scary premise so powerful yet so simple you wonder how nobody came up with it until 2015. I do like the idea that It = impending Death, but it’s not necessary to enjoy the movie. I’m sure there’s an article somewhere explaining what Freddy or Jason or Terminator or Alien or Predator are metaphors for, but I don’t particularly care and obviously didn’t need them to enjoy those movies either.

    But it’s not a “turn off your brain!” movie, it’s actually the opposite! Like the best movies, you spend the whole time wondering “What would I do?”, but here you do it in both a moral quandary way like The Box (should I just pass the curse on to some poor sucker/someone I don’t like? They would probably do that to me, right?”) and also in a logistical “how do i get out of this situation?” way like Frozen (the ski lift one). Personally I would have tried to hook up with someone who’s about to move to the other side of the country/world, but I know I’d still spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder, which is still a thought that terrifies me. Unlike most of the movies above, I actually like the ambiguous ending here – plus the ambiguity of whether she slept with those guys on the boat or if Paul slept w/ the hookers (or if that guy slept w/ the girls in the cafeteria to buy him some time). I like that they give you just enough information to keep you intrigued and your brain activated, but not enough to demystify the entire situation (which is why I really hope they don’t make a sequel)

  32. Neal — I agree, the movie works much better if you don’t try to think of it as a metaphor. But man, the premise really makes it hard not to.

  33. I thought this was dope. I dug the whole slow-paced, cryptic, laconic, indie emo naturalism thing. The basic premise and hook is incredibly inventive. The various incarnations of the It that keeps doing the following are all creepy as hell and sometimes downright haunting. Atmosphere (score, pacing, visual storytelling, casting, production design) is incredible. Unfortunately, I think it loses a fair amount of momentum after the scene where they’re all at the beach, with the stark exception being that scene when It visits Greg, which approaches The Shining-grade horror epic-ness. The pool scene makes pretty much zero sense, and the film just about loses me there, plot-wise…kind of like the writers and directors are grasping at straws at this point. Though I will say that there was something very unsettling and effecive about the way It keeps winging TVs and objects at her in the pool. The relentless, utterly impersonal, and impassive nature of It. I’ll definitely want to watch this one again.

  34. Just watched it as part of my annual October scary movie marathon and thought it was pretty good. Shallow, but good. I just have one question about a scene in the middle of the movie. Right after the scene where the guy Jay had sex with gets killed, she drives out to the woods and sleeps on the hood of her car. When she wakes up, she walks down to the beach and sees 3 guys in a boat offshore. She strips down to her underwear and starts swimming out towards them. They cut away to her arriving back at her house, and I assumed that she had swam out there to have sex with one of those guys (or all 3?) so she could pass it on to a stranger, but then later she seems to imply that she didn’t do that because she didn’t want to pass it on to anyone else. So did she just want to go for a swim? She definitely seems to do that a lot in the movie. Maybe I’m overthinking it.

  35. RJ – Yeah the movie’s purposely vague about whether the three central characters ever pass it on to anyone. The good-looking neighbor stares flirtingly with those high school girls in the hospital cafeteria, Jay goes out to the boat with those drunk guys, and the friendzoned dude drives by a couple of hookers. They might have passed it on to all of them, or they chickened out/grew a conscience and passed it on to none of them. I like the point of the movie is that it doesn’t matter if they did or not, because it only delays the inevitable anyway. (I actually like the ambiguous ending for once – I have no idea if that was It walking behind them or not, and I like that the heroes don’t bother looking behind them, either out of tiredness/resignation or realizing that’s no way to live your life)

  36. That ambiguity is what makes me hate this movie a little more every time I think about it. Because it might be a metaphor for the inevitability of death to the filmmakers, but it’s very literal to those poor innocent bystanders our “heroes” may have knowingly fucked to death, which makes it literal to me, the viewer, who would feel very differently about the protagonists as characters and moral entities if they made these decisions. Keeping it vague just allows the filmmakers to have their cake and eat it to: imply potentially interesting ethical quandaries without ever showing the pretty young people doing anything unsympathetic. It’s a total coward move on the part of a director who doesn’t trust his audience to go along for the ride, which means he doesn’t understand why people enjoy horror movies at all. The overall swoony, romantic indie vibe just makes what amounts to murderous self-preservation feel even more callous. The implication is that these supposedly likable young people just doomed several strangers to painful, terrifying deaths and didn’t lose an ounce of sleep over it, yet the style of filmmaking still romanticizes them like a heavily filtered Instagram meme of young hipsters holding hands in front of a sunset.

  37. Finally watched it, and it reminded me of those dudes in GREMLINS 2, asking Billy about “what if it gets some food stuck in its teeth before midnight?” or “what if it’s on a plane and crosses time zones?”

    What does It do when It finally kills patient zero? How does It re-infect/re-haunt somebody?

    How do you figure It out so that you can try to survive and warn others about It ? It’s not like “it’s a ghost rapist I caught as an STD from a one night stand” is the most logical explanation when you get assaulted by a random creep.

    Since It can attack other people, why doesn’t It kill its target’s friends one by one first to make things easier?

    Since It’s so slow, why do those kids always let It catch up overnight? Can’t they drive for like 80 miles so they’re safe for a few days? And then they drive back home and since It Follows, It doesn’t Wait At Your House Until You Return, they never even have to see It again?

    Why don’t they try to catch It instead of killing It? “You can’t get rid of it, you just have to keep it in a dark corner and learn to live with it” worked well for THE BABADOOK. And I liked IT FOLLOWS better but I thought THE BABADOOk was more successful at Being About Something.

  38. Toxic, I think that’s a fair analysis as far as trying to tease out possible seams in the logic. Personally, I’m comfortable not having an explanation for the inner logic of the It that would cover all contingencies or ensure an equitable outcome generally, and I don’t think the film is sending a moral message about the woes of casual sex.Indeed, I don’t think the film is aimed at moralizing generally, and I suspect that the It itself is amoral. As a result, my guess is that the It is indifferent as to whether you were raped or having casual sex or what: it’s coming after you regardless, because it’s not an arbiter of justice but rather an arbitrary, pitiless klling spectre. It is funny to me that people are concerned to determine or defend whether this is a sensitive killing ghost or not: “I’m cool with the movie as long as you can assure me that this mysterious, imperious killing ghost curse would never go after a rape victim,” kind of thing.

    >>>>Can’t they drive for like 80 miles so they’re safe for a few days? And then they drive back home
    How sustainable is that?


    I agree that Babadook provides somewhat more of a resolution (though still a tentative, uneasy one), but I think It Follows works much better as a pure visceral-psychological creep-fest.

  39. I really did enjoy it a lot better than Babadook, which didn’t really work as a horror movie because of that stupid sounding, crappy looking store brand Tim Burton bogeyman, plus It Follows has a more intriguing premise and better music, so, really, in the world of horror movies that will be called the best and scariest in decades by people who either don’t like horror movies or like them but feel silly about admitting they like the gorier ones about masked psychos stabbing dumb teenagers in the woods, It Follows wins.

    Still, I thought Babadook did work reasonably well as a story about a mother whose fear of being a bad parent and guilt of not loving her child led her to have weird, haunting nightmares until she learned to accept fear and guilt as part of parenthood instead of trying to pretend they didn’t exist or could be destroyed. While It Follows on the other hand kind of falls apart when you try to think of it as a clever movie “about something”, because to me if you’re gonna be clever you need to think your ideas through a bit better than the guy who came up with the Gremlins rules, and if you can’t, I don’t know, stick to indie drama about the fear of becoming an adult with no monster in it, there’s still room for more of that.

  40. I know the popular line on THE BABADOOK is that it’s better as drama than horror, but I disagree. I think the drama of THE BABADOOK is what make it more effective as a horror movie than IT FOLLOWS. True, the actual horror stuff itself is a little been-there-done-that (though I feel that the derivative nature of the monster has a valid in-story justification) but the story it’s telling is so much more engaging that I, for one, got way more invested in (and thus scared by) the set-pieces than I did by IT FOLLOWS’ scare scenes. IT FOLLOWS was just so full of plot holes and gaps in logic that I spent the entire second half trying to puzzle out how it all works (Quick answer: It doesn’t.) instead of feeling any kind of visceral reaction to the action at all. BABADOOK used drama to access my fear center; IT FOLLOWS used ambivalence to lock me out.

  41. I contend that It Follows is a great movie because the rules are so vague. Plus I found parts legit scary and that rarely happens to me anymore.

    And the music is awesome.

  42. I was about to double down on my disdain for the film’s storytelling and thematic exploration (The technical term “hot garbage” was going to come up.) but then I realized that harping on a movie I didn’t like for months after the fact is kind of hypocritical given my recent stance against excessive negativity. So what I’m gonna do is refrain from criticism until I’ve given it my customary second chance.

  43. I enjoyed Babadook, but it was kind of a grim and depressing slog at times in terms of this woman’s descent into madness. I fail to see how the logic or “mythology” of the Babadook is any more transparent, comprehensive or obviously coherent than that of It Follows. (Full Disclosure: I lack some commenters’ discipline in terms of meticulous, itemized dissection and compare-contrast: I’m more of a lazy, high-level subjective gestalt kind of guy.) Both of them have a pretty basic, one-sentence supernatural horror gimmick premise. Not all questions or answered, and it’s certainly possible that the underlying logic is incoherent, but then again, there’s probably some maybe-elegant-or-maybe-convoluted to make the logic work, but whatever that is would actually make the film worse, kind of like making Freddy more visible and more back-story-i-fied makes him a bit less scary. That’s my take anyway.

    Anyways, at the risk of heresy, I don’t think a film has to have a perfectly lean, plot-driven, de-ambiguized and logical plot progression where each scene clearly discloses its full meaning and then logically and linearly builds on the others to lead to an increasingly clear picture of what’s going on, culminating in a climax that thoroughly explains the how and why of the last hour or two. I agree that in some cases, the absence of this approach may reflect laziness or incoherence, but often I think it’s just about style and aesthetic sensibility (the kind of film one is trying to make). I think some films are obviously all about explaining their logic in fairly straightforward narrative and dialogue-driven terms: telling a dense and semantically-rich story. Others are less about logic and dialogue and more about just a vague, provocative, aesthetic-affective journey–a central conceit or premise, resonant characters, strong emotional resonance or striking visual images, and a lot of dialogue-free white space for you to project and ponder and puzzle. That’s why I like the Revenant or Tree of Life or Under the Skin or It Follows or Mulholland Drive. They are more like paintings or trippy albums. The narrative can be sparse and underdetermined, the dialogue can be limited and/or cryptic, and that can be okay or even good. For other films, they are more talky and linear and the narrative is denser and more clearly unpacked and traditional in format and payoff (like Sixth Sense or Psycho or whatever); and that can work, too. But it’s just a difference in style, aim, and sensibility, I think. I know that’s nothing earth-shattering, but I think a lot of films are dismissed simply because they have a different basic approach to storytelling.

  44. I think Babadook is more coherent because it really has close to zero “mythology” or explanation to anything, so there’s not much to question, no risk of getting distracted thinking “wait, if Babadook can take the appearance of your mom so you don’t get suspicious and it can rape you to death by surprise in your own bedroom, then why would Babadook give anyone a chance to escape by taking the appearance of a naked stranger on the roof sometimes?”

    You don’t run the risk of contradicting things you’ve already established when you keep things as simple and mysterious as “some creepy fictional monster is messing with your head”. There’s no logical explanation to the fact that the book shows up again after the mom burns it, but it’s ok because there was no logical explanation to the fact that they owned the book in the first place so you can accept “because it’s magic” or “because it’s all in her mind” as valid reasons for the supernatural things to happen.

    And I don’t think the ghost of It Follows is as simple and basic as the bogeyman in The Babadook, so the “because that’s how I wrote the plot because I thought my premise was so clever I never questioned any of my ideas, now shut up” aspect of the supernatural stuff is more transparent.

    And we’re talking about a movie with a completely linear plot, where Exposition Guy ties a character to a chair to explain the premise, and that has a character whose sole purpose is to read about the fear of inevitable mortality out loud to the others in case the audience is wondering what the subtext is about. Which to me makes it hard to accept as an esoteric journey that doesn’t care about the fascist rules of coherent storytelling and would rather let you ponder about stuff than spelling things out for you.

  45. The Original Paul

    April 22nd, 2016 at 5:19 pm

    Well I’ve just added this one to my expanding DVD collection, and watched it. It’s really, really good. HALLOWEEN-esque in terms of just keeping me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. I thought this was a nail-biter that ran on pure tension and some fantastic performances from the kids. I don’t agree at all with the criticisms of their characters, by the way. I thought the little hints of their individual characters, of the interpersonal relationships between them, and of their friendship generally, were superbly and subtly done. And the scoring is brilliant. It didn’t waste time either; I thought that there’d be cliche’d scenes of the parents not believing Jay, etc. But the film does away with all of that, and is better for it.

    But more than that, it’s a fantastic horror movie. Throughout the film, I was looking out for the “it”. I can’t recall another film where the appearance of just random extras in the background had me so damn freaked out. Even in that final scene, which I had to rewatch three or four times just to check if a certain background actor appeared out of nowhere… but that kinda says it all, doesn’t it? The fact that I even wanted to do this shows just how well this film worked for me.

    It’s the polar opposite of the disappointing 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. With that movie, everything was told, not shown. We were given tons of exposition but little reason to care about any of it, despite the best efforts of Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Goodman (both wasted in that movie). This movie explains almost nothing, but that’s because it recognises that it really doesn’t need to do so. There’s one scene of exposition – and even that is freakishly chilling – and after that, we’re shown everything that we need to be shown. It’s a near-perfect example of “show, don’t tell”.

    This is the movie I hoped Maika Monroe would make after THE GUEST. I was worried that she’d get stuck in Platinum Dunes horror “remakes” or something. But nope, it appears that her agent knows what he or she is doing.

  46. Glad you enjoyed this one, OP. I’d have had to send a ghost to give you crabs if you hadn’t. Rimshot.

    Seriously, though…

    Toxic, I’ll probably need to watch these two films again. On first viewing, the two stories seemed about equally vague and mysterious in premise: there’s a creepy book and book-villain-guy that keep showing up to terrorize this mom and her kid, just because; there’s this creepy post-sex curse that’s going to haunt you and try to kill you and maybe mess with you a little in the meantime, just because. I guess both stories were fairly linear, though they’re also both pretty spare on details as to what’s driving the antagonist or where it came from or how to stop it; and both end on somewhat ambiguous notes.

    I’m not prepared to say that It Follows is the better film, but I enjoyed it more. I dig Maika Monroe and the whole aesthetic, and there were some excellent creepy, high-tension moments. With Babadook, something about it seemed a bit more generic, and the mom gave a great performance, but just watching her be so depressed and exhausted and out of it, it was oddly draining. I’ll give it another try one of these days, but I’ll be watching It Follows again first.

  47. Glad you enjoyed this one, OP. I’d have had to send a ghost to give you crabs if you hadn’t. Rimshot.

    Seriously, though…

    Toxic, I’ll probably need to watch these two films again. On first viewing, the two stories seemed about equally vague and mysterious in premise: there’s a creepy book and book-villain-guy that keep showing up to terrorize this mom and her kid, just because; there’s this creepy post-sex curse that’s going to haunt you and try to kill you and maybe mess with you a little in the meantime, just because. I guess both stories were fairly linear, though they’re also both pretty spare on details as to what’s driving the antagonist or where it came from or how to stop it; and both end on somewhat ambiguous notes.

    I’m not prepared to say that It Follows is the better film, but I enjoyed it more. I dig Maika Monroe and the whole aesthetic, and there were some excellent creepy, high-tension moments. With Babadook, something about it seemed a bit more generic, and the mom gave a great performance, but just watching her be so depressed and exhausted and out of it, it was oddly draining. I’ll give it another try one of these days, but I’ll be watching It Follows again first.

  48. The Original Paul

    April 23rd, 2016 at 6:58 am

    Skani – oh yeah, this year’s “buy everyone’s recommendations and see how they work out” is working out much, much better than last year’s. (Although to be fair on you guys, nobody actually recommended SUDDEN IMPACT to me.) This was great, AZUMI was mostly great, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD was brains. It’s been a good time.

  49. The Original Paul

    April 23rd, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Although it has been unsatisfying in one respect. Mentioning SUDDEN IMPACT prompted me to go back and look at my write-up of that movie. I miss being able to write a good evisceration, y’know? As it turns out, all of these movies that you guys are saying are really good actually are really good. And don’t get me wrong, I’m enjoying the movies. I would rather watch IT FOLLOWS than SUDDEN IMPACT. (I think I’d rather watch two hours of wallpaper slowly peeling off a wall than SUDDEN IMPACT.) But it’s no fun just agreeing with people all the time; sometimes you just want a good argument. Where’s the fun in just agreeing on stuff all the time?

    Oh the bright side, it’s possible that the beloved talking animal movie BABE will be 100%-proof pigswill and I’ll get to pick a fight over that one. (Ok, maybe not likely. But possible.)

  50. I thought this movie was 100% thematically and logically airtight. I don’t get you guys.

  51. The Original Paul

    April 23rd, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Renfield – nah, I’m with you on this one. If there were any holes in it, the film had me gripped tightly enough that I didn’t notice / care. I thought it was excellent.

  52. Yeah, in general, I think holes have to be pretty gaping (or other things about the film have to really suck) for me to much notice. If the performances are on point, the suspense is there, and the atmosphere is good, I’m pretty much down. It’s only when there is a really critical plot hole that really undermines my absorption in the unfolding story where I start to have problems. That was one of the same reasons I didn’t really get all the complaints about how new Star Wars had the implausible eye-rolling recyclings and call-backs to earlier films. Yeah, I guess if you have overlearned all that stuff it may seem a bit implausible for history to repeat itself, but there’s no huge flaw that undermines the internal logic to a degree that I just can’t follow or get immersed in what’s going on. Unless the deficit in the internal logic is so strong as to really undermine the fundamental premise or really make a key plot point feel unearned, the other aspects of the film are the more than enough to carry the day for the better.

  53. I gave IT FOLLOWS another chance and hated it even more. I hate the characters: boring, fake-disaffected nothings all. Plus they all look like they smell bad. I hate the plot development. (“Let’s sit Indian style and talk calmly with the guy who fucked me under false pretenses and doomed me to a life of terror and then maybe go to the beach hey look a monster repeat.”) I hate the sloppy mythology. I hate the Paul Blart-level special effects. I hate the ending. I hate the phony baloney hipster unstuck-in-time production design. I hate the Instagram filter cinematography. I hate the Pavlovian response the score is expected to have on me by evoking gorror films

  54. *horror films from an era it has nothing in common with. I hate the Mumblecore sound design. I hate the fucking idiotic pool scene most of all.

    I don’t know if it’s actually a bad movie but I know I hate almost everything about it. It’s got two good scenes and the rest is just infuriating.

  55. He’s baaaa-aaaack!
    What several others here lament as “grumpy”, I consider to be simply forthright. Way to be yourself, Mr. M.

    I recall upon its release all the RT critics elbowing their way to the front to praise IT FOLLOWS, and without a moment’s contemplation I went to see it in the theatre. Watched the movie, waited for “the good part” to kick in, it never did. Saw it again later on DVD… still nada. Maika Monroe’s performance is its only redeeming feature.

    A horror movie is supposed to evoke fear, tension, a measure of unsettlement. IT FOLLOWS didn’t do any of those things. Plus setting it in a place as skanky as Detroit is a misfire— it’s meant to make it seem ominous, but it only comes off as dismal.

    You’re right about the Mumblecore correlation. If Greta Gerwig had played Jay, this movie’s failure would’ve been complete.

  56. Hating a seemingly universally beloved movie (though it might just be Internet beloved—I’ve never talked to a single person IRL who likes it) creates strange bedfellows. Thanks for your support, Larry.

    I just don’t connect to most of the new hipster horror canon. They just feel like a collection of atmospheric tricks that make them feel deeper than they really are, but without any real meat on their bones. They’re too tasteful to shock, too serious to entertain, too obviously symbolic to get under the skin. They feel like horror made for and by dilletantes. I’ve seen everything they attempt done with half the pretension and twice the crowd-pleasing. I remain unimpressed. Masters of Horror this generation are not.

  57. I hate both of you.

  58. Luckily we’re pretty easy to avoid if you just get in a car and keep driving in one direction.

  59. I prefer to look danger in the eye. :)

  60. The Original Paul

    April 24th, 2016 at 1:32 pm


    “Though it might just be Internet beloved—I’ve never talked to a single person IRL who likes it…”

    Congratulations! You now have your own “village”. I have yet to actually meet a person who likes CASINO ROYALE either. (Sadly, I’ve also never met another person who’s seen Michael Bay’s TRANSFORMERS and not thought it was awesome.) I now want to get your friends and my friends in the same room and have ourselves a debate / war or something.

    On a more serious note: I’m not going to debate you on IT FOLLOWS because it honestly seems like we look for different things in this type of horror movie. The things that struck you as negatives are also the things that I thought worked well. There’s no middle ground there.

    I’d be interested to know what you thought about 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE though, if you saw it (I looked in the comments of Vern’s review and couldn’t see anything from you there about the actual film). My rationale for why I think IT FOLLOWS is a better movie than 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE is that IT FOLLOWS at least feels like a completed movie. 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE does not – it feels like someone threw together a bunch of different ideas that don’t really “gel”. It feels like an incomplete re-write, not a complete movie. I think my opinion of CLOVERFIELD LANE is probably more negative than most people’s (and the screening quality might be at least partly to blame for that – it sure as heck didn’t put me in a good mood) but I’d still be interested to know how much we agree on that one, if at all.

  61. I no longer enable America’s J.J. Abrams addiction, so no, I did not see it. But it looked pretty tedious.

  62. The Original Paul

    April 24th, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Wait a sec…

    “I’m not going to debate you on IT FOLLOWS because it honestly seems like we look for different things in this type of horror movie.”

    Yeah, I’m not going to get that scrap after all. Boo.

  63. Call it a satire and you will get that scrap, tough guy.

  64. Paul: I don’t know if we’re looking for different things or if we just felt differently about the things that were there. You like the characters; I find them barely human at best, monstrously callous and unappealing at worst. You like the cinematography; the preciousness of it makes my eyes roll. You found it scary; I thought it had one trick that it quickly ran into the ground. I don’t know what I was looking for (I feel like I was pretty open to what it had to offer) but whatever it is, I didn’t find it. This is a movie I dislike both for the whole and for its individual ingredients. I’m happy to hear dissenting opinions but you can’t argue away that kind of visceral rejection of everything a film has to offer. So you’re right that there’s little point in debating it.

  65. The Original Paul

    April 24th, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Majestyk – yeah, that’s kinda my point. It feels as though the only thing we’re really disagreeing on is our own reactions to the same stuff, and there’s no point in debating that.

    Would still like to know your reaction to 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE though (assuming you watched it).

  66. Paul— With respect, I think you’re not quite grasping Mr. M’s policy regarding films that have been homogenized by J.J. Abrams’s involvement (direct, peripheral, or otherwise).

    Let’s say (and maybe he’s not gonna like this, but here goes anyway) we employ a girl he dated as a J.J. surrogate. It’s not as though he gave her the “We need to talk” warning shot, and then decided they needed some time apart.

    No, I think his decision would be something more stringent, and allow me to quote Scary Spice herself, the savory Mel B:

    “Pack your shit
    And get the hell out
    Don’t come back around here no more”

    It’s not entirely uncommon for a movie geek to— at some point, after all reasonable patience expires— shun a particular director. I did the same thing with Savage Steve Holland.

  67. Turns out Amazing Larry is John Cusack.

    Also, Steve Holland is an odd choice for contempt considering he really only made two good movies that nobody even talks about.

  68. Sternshein— No sir, not contempt. Disappointment. It wouldn’t have been all that difficult to complete his Cusack Trilogy. BETTER OFF DEAD depicts him as a high school student, and in ONE CRAZY SUMMER he’s newly graduated from high school. Holland could’ve just cranked out another with Cusack as Joe College and called it good.

    BTW, the legacy from ONE CRAZY SUMMER is the funeral scene, in which it became all too apparent how heartbreaking Demi Moore appears when those brown eyes of hers become flooded with tears. This wasn’t lost on GHOST director Jerry Zucker, who milked that poignant display of sorrow for all it was worth.

    There’s no tangible way of measuring how much this SSH masterstroke, so brazenly stolen by Zucker, affected the box office gross of GHOST ($505 million, an outlandish amount for 1990, and placing it #1 worldwide for that year), but I’m guessing it wasn’t chump change.

    Am I kidding about all this? Is it some flimsy attempt to be this evening’s Mr. Jokey Jokemaker? Probably not.

  69. The Original Paul

    April 25th, 2016 at 1:49 am

    Larry and Majestyk – I didn’t see Majestyk’s / your post saying that he / you hadn’t seen it. Whoops. Sorry.

  70. I’ll see it eventually, Paul. Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a tanktop ensured that. I’ve just seen enough JJ productions to know that the story will not satisfy and I’ll just complain about it afterwards. I’m not giving my money to him anymore if I can help it.

  71. This might annoy people, but I have a very hard time seperating Joss Whedon and J.J Abrams. They produce similar slick, light weight entertainment that I never cared for, but everyone else have opinions on. But for me the names kind of blur together. I don´t know which one made ALIAS, FIREFLY or BUFFY . Don´t be surprised if I at one time writes J.Joss Abredon or something like that. That will most likely happen. I am surprised I have yet to make that mistake.

  72. Always remember: Whedon is the guy who is all about smartass quips for teenagers and who always blames others if one of his movies or TV shows don’t work.

  73. The Original Paul

    April 25th, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Majestyk – if it helps, I didn’t realise that CLOVERFIELD LANE was a J J Abrams production until the discussion here. It’s way better than the last two I saw (of course the last two I saw were PROMETHEUS and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 3, so that’s kinda damning with faint praise there). I seem to be in the minority in terms of not being able to “get over” the film’s problems, and I also had a really bad screening of it, which may have affected my opinion somewhat.

    Shoot and CJ – you guys seriously need to sit underneath a bridge and eat any passing traveller who doesn’t give you a gold piece. I’m not rising to your bait!

  74. We’ve created such a land of bitterness and resentment here.

  75. Bitter Town and Resentment Village are overpopulated by now.

  76. Sorry, Vern. I’m really failing at this whole “Be more positive in 2016” thing.

  77. Well to be fair, this year has started out being a real dick to us.

  78. Amazing Larry, it’s hard to make a third movie when your star goes on record saying he hated Better Off Dead. He once said it made him look stupid which is hilarious considering his resume for the last 15 years.

  79. Also, I need to defend Whedon because Buffy, Angel and, to a lesser extent Firefly, were not just lightweight entertainment.

  80. The Original Paul

    April 25th, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Vern – can I have the opportunity to throw these guys under the bus here? So far this year I’ve seen:

    – HATEFUL EIGHT. (Very good Tarantino about storytelling, violence, and racism.)
    – STAR WARS: THE FORCE UNLEASHED. (Pretty good, better than the prequels.)
    – LONDON HAS FALLEN. (Piss-take of jingoistic action movies; biting and fun.)
    – SPOTLIGHT. (Excellent.)
    – 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. (Very flawed, not original, bad screening.)
    – DEADPOOL. (Very good, a little insubstantial but well done.)
    – HARDCORE HENRY. (Fun as hell.)

    Those plus a bunch of new DVDs including AZUMI (very good), IT FOLLOWS (excellent), RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (brains), and a bunch of old stuff (THE CASSANDRA CROSSING, AIRPLANE, JUDGEMENT NIGHT, etc).

    I mean, so far the worst film I’ve seen this year has been 10 CLOVERFIELD LANE. And that’s still a decent movie, although I did think it was pretty flawed. I mean, if that’s the worst film you see all year, it’s a pretty damn good year, right?

  81. Oh for fucks sake Paul! (blows own head off)

  82. The Original Paul

    April 26th, 2016 at 3:17 am


  83. Deadpool insubstantial but not Hardcore Henry?

  84. The Original Paul

    April 26th, 2016 at 4:42 am

    Sternshein – I thought DEADPOOL was great for the most part, but there are things about the film’s world that I’d have liked to have known more about – for example, we never find out exactly who’s behind Francis’ organisation. (Somebody must have turned him into a mutant in the first place, right? How did he end up in charge? Was there a violent takeover? Does he answer to anybody himself?) It’s really my only complaint with the film. I thought stuff like that could’ve been shown without altering the film too much and it would’ve made the world a bit more compelling.

    As for HARDCORE HENRY… there’s only so much “world building” you can do with a film that takes place entirely from one man’s first-person viewpoint. How much did it really need? This is a film in which the protagonist gets shot, killed and revived in a brothel, all while surrounded by five naked prostitutes, all shown from a first-person viewpoint. I think the film had a different focus is what I’m trying to say. Criticising HARDCORE HENRY for being “insubstantial”, at least in the way that I mean DEADPOOL is, feels like criticising MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING for not including an alien invasion.

  85. I gave the hype enough time to properly die down and finally sat down with this. I enjoyed the suspense when it did work and the minimalist approach. However the cop out ending while ingenious to others was just straight up cheap to me.

    The whole movie we see Jay devolve into a monster in her own right. The scene with the guys on the boat and her jumping in the water shows how desperate and far gone her affliction has made her. Which is the true horror of the situation. However unlike say Helen in CANDYMAN there is no comeuppance so in the end it all felt pretty hollow. Decent atmospheric despite a cheesy synth score though.

  86. Yeah, I watched it last month too. It works 100% in the atmosphere and suspense department, but the ending (I still don’t know what exactly they were trying to do in the pool. And what happened afterwards was the joke ending that my buddy and I came up with earlier, so you know this movie has a problem.) and the complete lack of logic really ruined it for me.

    I mean, what’s the point of The Follower sometimes appearing as an exact look-alike of a friend or family member, then sometimes it’s some easy to spot meth-addict looking, drooling, pissing, screaming hobo banshee or an eyeless giant or a lycanthropic kid? And whenever someone will tell me in the future that “it’s scarier to not explain things”, I will use this movie as example of how annoying it can be to not explain anything at all! What are the exact rules? We know The Follower can’t teleport through walls or closed doors, but how long will you be safe if you drive fast enough to the other side of the country and then hop on an intercontinental flight? Can it take a bus? Or a plane? Or a boat? Does the sex have to be consensual? (The guy at the beginning really took a lot of time to hook up with a girl and get her to sleep with him on her own, for someone who is desperate. [Not saying that I want the movie to start with a rape.]) Is an orgasm needed or is it enough if he sticks it in only once? What about hand jobs and oral sex? Is penetration needed? Does a strap-on work? What happens when the follower has everybody in line killed? Seriously, it’s like they filmed the first draft of the script!

    And yes, the score felt like from a completely different movie.

  87. And am I the only one who found it weird that the “friend zoned” dude knew that his friend was cursed and what will happen when they fuck, but he still spends most of the movie like: “Waaaaah, why isn’t she fucking ME!?”

  88. Yeah that dude was a weirdo. “I know that other dude died cause you passed it to him and I know it’s real but please please gimmie one more kiss.”

    If anything she was a solid friend for refusing to pass the burden on to him for most of the movie.

  89. I said it before upwards in this thread, but I did not find the lack of a fully exposit-ed logic or mythology to be a problem with this film. It’s a weird sex curse that is here to haunt you, fuck with you, and kill you. Perhaps the fact that it varies it’s appearance gives it a bit more personality and menace–an air of unpredictability (it’s not entirely clear how, when, where it’s going to show up) within a larger inevitability (it’s gonna show up, gunning for you).

  90. The problem with this movie is more about internal logic and like somebody already pointed in the thread a lot of the potential variables not really adding up with what the movie seemingly set up.

    By all intents and purposes it created the conceit of “now these good kids are gonna have to fight their own darker impulses, no turning back” just to cop out with “hey but they will carry on and just accept the fate. Life goes on.” cool but totally 2 completely different things and what they went with didn’t truly honor what they seemed to set up.

    So the end is neither horrifying or unsettling. It’s just “in life we learn to carry on” which is such an overbeaten albeit realistic message. Which feels cheaper because not everybody carries on. Humans have an inherent darkness that compells them to do selfish things. It felt safe unearned and weak in an otherwise decent romp. If this was a Twilight Zone it’d definitely be one of the weaker ones because of the moral of it’s ending.

  91. I think I like this one for the acting, the score and the fact it actually scared me on more then one occasion. Not many movies anymore give me any scares.

  92. It’s not obvious to me that the ending or broader narrative has or is intended to have any one meaning (message, moral), etc. The nature of the curse is ambiguous: We don’t know how or why it originated or how or whether it can be extinguished, we we know only how it is spread. Likewise, the ending is subject to interpretation. It’s not obvious that they are doomed nor that they are free; we know only that they’ve survived to this point.

    My point is that there is a difference between disliking or critiquing *a* moral, message, or interpretation of the film or its ending that you have inferred and overlaid vs. disliking or critiquing *the* singular, objective meaning (filmmaker intent?) of the film or its ending. On its surface, I know that’s a pretty banal distinction, but it seems to me that people are getting frustrated with their own interpretations, not some single objective meaning that we can all agree upon or that the filmmaker would claim as his intended meaning.

    Here is the director’s perspective (on there being different perspectives):

    The Ending of The Horror Film IT FOLLOWS Explained by Director

    I loved the concept behind the horror movie It Follows, but I wasn’t a big
    fan of how it was executed — especially the second half of the movie. After
    it started blowing up in theaters, and more and more people were talking
    about how much they loved it, I decided to go and see it again to see

  93. How else can you really interpret that the 2 cursed people are not even vigilant and always looking around them anymore than that being a sign thay they’ve accepted IT? I’ll read his official outlook in a bit.

    However as someone who has been watching horror for over 30 years now I will say this. Just because you have vagueness in your picture it doesn’t mean it’s functional ambiguity.

    I’m reading through this thread and somebody notes FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley and that is a brilliant example. I only ever met 3 other people who read that book and we all interpreted it differently. However Shelley worked in threads and info that could soundly back up ALL 4 interpretations and hold water. That’s how you do it.

    With film you’re dealing with a visua medium and a lot of filmmakers forget that. The visual storytelling aspect is key. It’s the difference between selling the point you really want to sell or selling something you never intended to. The visual nuances matter.

    So with that in mind. We have the couple walking off hand in hand. Yes we see an ominious figure in the background before the fade to black. However can’t you see how that could visually lay the impression of “they don’t care anymore. It’s whatever. Can’t stop the music cause life is too short” as opposed to say at least having one of them look back before the fade to black?

    The visual cues are clues into the moment and in thay moment that was not the way it came across hence why so many people have read it the same way I have. I don’t think that is coincidence as much as it is not being as slick with being ambigious as you may think you are. For an example of a movie that did this right watch POLTERGEIST.

  94. I have no problem with the fact that the film doesn’t explain the nitty gritty details of the curse of why the creature functions the way it does. First of all, I hate it when movies have to explain everything to us like we’re idiots or we can’t handle filling in the blanks ourselves. Granted, I understand where this instinct is coming from. There are people making videos on Youtube that basically call out movies for their “plot holes,” which are in reality just moments in the movie where the audience is expected to infer something.

    Second of all, in horror, I do think the illogical aspect of the creature makes it more frightening. It’s not just that the threat isn’t fully explained; it’s that the threat makes no sense and does not act in a rational way. I remember how much the last shot of The Shining freaked me out first time, because it made no logical sense. It was just strange and surreal and could not be easily fit into our empirical world.

    Also, the ending includes a bit more than just that final shot. You see that nerdy guy drive by a couple of prostitutes, which I always assumed implied that he had passed off the curse (but of course we don’t know for sure). I think there’s an economic reading of the ending where these middle class white kids think they can pass off this curse to the poor and downtrodden of Detroit and never have to worry about it again.

  95. RBatty regarding that last paragraph in your post. Had this been a George Romero film I’d have no doubt that he would’ve explicitly gone for that angle.

  96. Broddie, I would not have objected to a final look back, like you suggest. Thinking about it, that might have been a more effective ending. At the same time, I maintain that your interpretation is not *the* inescapable and obvious interpretation that the filmmaker intended any reasonable audience member to draw. I think you’re reading (projecting) a lot into the couple’s psychology. Maybe they think they’ve passed it on and are rid of it (e.g., it would have come for them again by now if it still was coming after them). Maybe they are simply weary and have made a stoic choice to stop running or looking behind them (e.g., they can’t sustain the running forever, so they will embrace their fate with resolve). Maybe your interpretation holds. There’s a lot of blanks you’re filling in, and I maintain that the blank-filling process has a substantial inkblot/Mad Libs element to it (and this is what the director intends).

  97. Skani that is exactly my point. Whether you assume that they had thought they had passed it on or they just decided to embrace their fate it all leads down the same road: indifference; and there is nothing vague about that. I don’t care for semantics. I’m an old school movie guy; very much in the “show don’t tell” loving section of fandom. So believe me I’m not even trying to overthink it or read too much into it. I prefer to be taken on the ride not to analyze it. However I also understand the cinematic language well enough at this point in my life that reading into visual storytelling alone that scene is nowhere near as open ended as you suggest. What that scene by itself states on the most instinctive reading is that it’s possible that whatever the details may be as to the “why?” (and there could be many different ones) they’re over it. You see people in this very thread having picked up on that in some form of another.

    To me that is just not effective horror storytelling and also not successful via visuals because clearly it’s been misinterpreted. The one little touch of having at least one of them look back would definitely suggest what you say the scene actually implies for sure without question. A lot more clearly. Such a simple change and it’s not even overt exposition it’s just letting the audience know that:

    1) One of them is still paranoid and on their guard.

    2) That one could’ve warned the other and they both headed for the hills.

    3) That one could’ve looked back and then just shrugged their shoulder and kept it moving.

    4) That one of them decided to stand their ground and allow the shit to hit the fan.

    and many many other possibilities. The one difference is whatever happens after the fade to black one thing is certain because of it’s impulsiveness you leave the audience with a foreboding sense of dread. You still have the effect of leaving it open ended enough that it could be x, y or z outcome but you leave the audience feeling a kick to the gut. It’s a true horror ending.

    As it stands though yeah you can assume that the figure in the background could be IT or not IT at all it could end up being a neighbor or a passer by I’ll give you that but the one thing that you can’t assume is that the characters even still give a fuck at that point. Nothing suggests that they do. They move forward, looking forward and do it together (hand holding) because they’re both at that same mental point. To me that is failing if your aim is to leave the audience with something to really wonder about. It’s pretty clear cut so it’s not horrible because it truly isn’t ambiguous at least on the primal level that the movie hopes that it would be.

  98. All I’m saying is if you’re gonna go for the safe cop out ending in spite of the one that might be more unsettling [which hey it should be] but will also better serve the story (ie: Jay and friend zone dude not walking away scott free) fine. However if you take that route and you want to stick the landing make sure your execution plan is on point. Otherwise one slight mishap and you’re not landing as smoothly as you anticipated. Regardless of it not being the ending I would’ve preferred either way he still miscalculated enough to not fully pull it off. Which was kinda jarring and brought what was a decent return to simplistic horror to a screeching halt. With that said I would still recommend. There is enough in it to like it but it’s just “eh” instead of “damn that might be a genuine classic” like some tried to sell it as. This type of shit smokes the hell out of crap today’s audience is used to with the genre like PARANORMAL ACTIVITY and all that other junk so of course it gets it’s props. When they are due.

  99. The fact that we are still talking about it says something about the legacy of the film.

  100. I’ll gladly accept that the ending seemed affectively or aesthetically unsatisfying for you (and others), particularly inasmuch as it doesn’t deliver on specific tropes or beats that you would have wanted to see. But I disagree that those reactions are normative or that they reflect objective deficiencies of the film. Or that this amounts to a cop out. Or that there is such a thing as a true horror ending.

  101. The fact that we are still talking about it says something about the legacy of the film.

    Well, it’s still a pretty new movie. Let’s wait till 2027 if that movie has any legacy at all.

  102. (Damn, that “cite” command doesn’t look like I imagined it.)

  103. I didn’t know citing was am option.

  104. Well, these buttonless commands that you have to type yourself are easy to overlook.

  105. Well David Robert Mitchell’s followup to It Follows, “Under the Silver Lake” is on Amazon Prime now, and it’s kinda funny but also seems to revel in its own awfulness. Shaggy, confusing, aimless, and incredibly over-long at almost two and a half hours, it’s definitely Mitchell’s “Southland Tales”. As in, it’s too ambitious for its own good and wants desperately to be a cult classic and might end up being one, but will probably just end up killing the director’s career. I can’t quite put my finger on why I kinda loved “Inherent Vice” and didn’t really like this one considering how similar they are (I feel like I was equally baked for both of them)

    I will have to say, there’s a handful of really strong ideas and themes buried in this movie, and there’s an all-timer of a scene involving an old guy and a piano which feels like the ending but then the movie goes on and on for almost another hour. I appreciate Mitchell’s brazenness and willingness to make a movie he knows most people are going to hate, I just hope he can get the formula right next time.

  106. Anybody else feel like we’re getting a lot of SOUTHLAND TALESes and not a lot of PULP FICTIONs these days?

  107. I complained on here already many times about how I miss the “anything goes, let’s have fun” spirit of 90s indie filmmakers, compared to today’s “We wanna be respectable, this is art, THIS IS DEEP FOR FUCKS SAKE!!!” mentality of the current generation. I would kill for another CLERKS or DESPERADO at this point.

  108. Why are movies in general 2.5 hours. Like Midsommer really didn’t need to be that long for a film that ultimately says nothing about what the director thinks it says. I bet Silver Lake could have been in and out in 90 mins

  109. This was a spirited thread, eh, hoser? Apparently, they are doing a sequel to this. Perhaps we’ll find out whether The Follower is ideologically sex positive or not, its positions on Ukraine, Israel-Palestine, and whether it originated from a lab or a wet market. Probably for that we’ll have to wait for IT FOLLOWS: ORIGINS: PORT OF CALL LAKE MICHIGAN. Anyway, this sounds like a bad idea to me, and I liked part 1. Eh, maybe they’ll figure it out.

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