The hype machine can either make or break many a Horror film, but occasionally there are films that for certain reasons are immune to these effects. It Follows was hyped as “the Next Babadook”, immediately making we weary. The Babadook was such a uniquely special and strange film that the idea of capturing lightning in the same bottle twice seemed impossible. As it turns out, Director David Robert Mitchell captured lightning in an entirely different bottle…but at first I didn’t think so.
The premise is simple enough, our Heroine, Jay, goes on a date only to have sex and then be drugged and tied to a chair. Sounds like a pretty good time so far? Keep reading, it gets weird. Upon waking, she is informed by her date that he had been cursed, and now he has passed the curse to her through sex. This curse means she will be followed by a creature visible only to those cursed. It will always look like something different, usually taking the form of whatever will help It get close to you. It will always be walking towards her in a straight line, and it will never stop. If It touches her, It will kill her that then It will follow whoever gave the curse to her. The only way to save herself is to pass the Curse to someone else by sleeping with them.
I’ll try to keep the rest of this as Spoiler-free as possible, because It Follows has a lot of layers that are worth unraveling for yourself. After my first viewing I remember thinking that I liked the film, but that it hadn’t come close to the hype…but there was something about it I couldn’t get out of my mind. I can’t explain it, but somehow I knew there was SOMETHING about the film that I had missed. Something that made me uneasy. I don’t recall feeling that anything in the film was scary…but it stayed with me. It Followed. I needed to watch it again, this time focusing on the background and not as much on the story, trying to find what had set me so on edge. I felt like the first time I watched Kubricks The Shining, trying to find the hidden clues and unravel the hidden secrets…
The first clues I found in the first scene. We see a young woman running out of her house wearing heels, short shorts, and a tank top. From her attire and the lush green grass and trees around her, we think it’s Summerish, right? As she loops back around to her house, we see the lawns across the street are littered with the telltale signs of fall. Dead leaves, barren trees and even Pumpkins on the porch. Doesn’t quite add up… Later, we see our main character, Jay, swimming in an above ground pool, which we can see damn well is not heated, or at the very least is not heated well. then the same evening on her date, we can see that she, her suitor and everyone else in the theater are wearing heavy coats. Later, Jay and Kelly are wandering the neighborhood clearly dressed for chilly weather, but behind them we see the lush green grass again.
If she needs to dress like Miss Pumpkin Spice Latte 2015, there is no fucking way she would also go swimming in that above ground pool! Then i started noticing that more than just the weather didn’t add up…the Time period this film exists in doesn’t seem to exist either. Nobody has cellhones, or even cordless phones…yet that one girl has the weird clamshell e-reader gimmick. We see brand new modern cars alongside brand new vintage cars, Home decor that looks like a strange hodge-podge of 50’s and 70’s, old clunker tv sets that only show black and white programs, yet we catch glimpses of modern appliances as well such as stainless steel fridges with ice-makers. It’s all very subtle but little details like this will make it almost impossible to get your bearings. It all seems normal enough, but you won’t be able to shake the feeling that something just isn’t right.
This film has really surprised me by packing a surprising amount of depth into what is on the surface a clever way of saying “Hey kids, be careful who you fuck”. There are so many layers that to fully explore everything in this review would be such a tedious read, so I will cap this off for now, and revisit things again later once more people have had a chance to see it. Please do yourself a favour and watch this film several times. Share it with others and feel free to email me with questions or comments. I look forward to seeing the legacy this film builds for itself.