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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Watch This Immediately, You Idiot!: It Follows

I always feel a little weird saying this about movies that open with a dead girl twisted into a flesh-pretzel with one of her legs torn off and tossed thoughtlessly next to her on the beach, but It Follows is a beautiful film to look at.  It's so artfully crafted, impeccably composed and amazingly shot, that I found myself in awe of the beauty of the filmmaking, even while I was cringing and watching the screen through squinted eyes.  The direction, script, actors, score--oh, good God, the score!--are as near perfect as I've seen in a long time, and as a longtime, committed horrorphile, it felt like director David Robert Mitchell had created a film to specifically ping all of my horror pleasure centers.  It Follows deliberately harkens back to the horror of the 80's and early 90's, a time period for which I have quite an affinity.
It Follows is the story of Jay, a young woman who has sex with her new boyfriend, only to discover afterward that she has inherited a sexually transmitted curse in which she is doomed to be forever followed by a monster who can take on the appearance of anybody it wants--from friends to family members to complete strangers--yet can only be seen the carrier of the curse.  If it catches up with you, well, it kills you (see: dead girl on beach minus a leg).  If it kills you, it takes up following the person that passed the curse onto you again, and so on. The only way to keep the monster away from you, is by passing the curse along to someone else (Think The Ring, only you get to have sex!) and then, I guess, encouraging them to bone someone as soon as humanly possibly.  The bulk of the movie involves Jay dealing with this monster with the help of her friends.
It. Following.

On the evening I saw It Follows, I made sure, beforehand, to announce my plans for the evening on several different social media platforms--as one does--accompanied by a picture of the double chili cheeseburger and parmesan fries I was having for dinner.  "Dinner, then It Follows with Jonathan," my message of movie night goodtimes read, a simple missive I hoped would elicit twinges of excitement and jealousy in my online followers.  What I got was this comment: "NO NO!!  Don't go see it!  It's awful!!!"  I asked this person later why she didn't like it and she said, among other things, "it didn't scare me."  While I am willing to admit that, no, there were not an abundance of "jump scares" in It Follows (There is the one scene, mentioned by the online commenter, where a ball loudly smacks a window from out of nowhere, that made me and my fellow moviegoers jump; in fact, said scene lead me to describe It Follows to Jonathan as "key-janglingly frightening," as I found myself more startled by the jangling keys of the woman sitting behind me in the theater then the rubber ball itself.), but "jump scares" are nothing but cheap tricks to fool the horror amateur into thinking a film is scary when it actually isn't.  "This horror film we're making is kind of not scary.  Oh, I know, throw a cat at the protagonist and make sure the volume in the theater is cranked to 11."  Instant (pseudo) scary.
I submit that It Follows is one of the scariest, creepiest movies I've seen in a good long time, and that is based solely on the film's premise:  It--whatever 'it' is--follows you.  Everywhere.  Always.  Ceaselessly.  Until it catches up to you.  And it kills you.  That is immensely unsettling and scary.  No matter how far you run, drive, fly, teleport, etc, etc, it will catch up with you.  Sure, the rules of the movie demand that it walks, but it doesn't mind walking.  It doesn't mind walking at all.
Want to see a perfect horror film?  Well, watch It Follows.  Immediately.  You idiot.

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