Stellar Indie Film “It Follows” Tells Demons, No Means No

By Scott Kurland

Film: It Follows
Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe, Jake Weary, and Daniel Zovatto
Rated R
Director: David Robert Mitchell

I don’t know when it occurred, but horror movies stopped being suspenseful scary. Most horror films  today are considered “torture porn.” You know, violence and gore so horrific that it is exploited to the point it becomes gratuitous. If we really try to pinpoint it, all these so called “horror films” started with “Scream” in 1996. But was pushed to an extreme in 2004, when “Saw” came out. I don’t know why a man in a gothic mask riding a tricycle is scary. I don’t know why the act of mutilation and self inflicted pain is considered horror, but trust me these aren’t horror movies. Thankfully, this weeks film “It Follows” brings back that old 1980's horror genre. Let’s see if it’s any good shall we?

“It Follows” tells the story of Jamie “Jay” (Maika Monroe), an innocent good girl who has been dating the mysterious Hugh (Jake Weary). After weeks of dating, Jay finally feels comfortable enough to take her relationship with Hugh to the next level. That’s right they ah, well first he...ah then she...then Unfortunately for Jay, Hugh was just a fake name, and he gives her an STD which, in this case, stands for Sexually Transmitted Demon. This demon, which is called “IT,” follows their target until “IT” can kill him or her. How “IT” kills them is by sucking the person’s life force out of their genitals....interesting...that’s new. Now Jay and her gang of Scooby-Doo-like friends must save her from “IT”. Luckily for Jay, the way “IT” follows is slowly walking on foot towards the target. So can Jay find another person to sleep with in order to lift her curse or is she doomed?

I’m going to shock you, because that description sounds like the worst film ever, but...I liked it. I liked this film quite a bit. I don’t know how director David Robert Mitchell pulled it off, but he brought back that John Carpenter 80s horror genre. This film is by no means an award winning film. I think it’s receiving such high praise because of how kitschy it is. What I really like about this film was the blend of independent film and suspense horror. In certain scenes there’s some great Kevin Smith/ Hal Hartley 90s style banter. Then, in the next scene, there’s startling suspense. What also works for this film is the cast of unknowns. With the exception of Keir Gilchrist from “The United States of Tara” and “It’s Kind of a Funny Story”, no one is famous.

Maika Monroe does well with the role of Jay. First she needs to be innocent, then slowly she transforms into a sexual being. This is never done for sex appeal; quite the opposite. All the sex scenes are very unsexy. If I’m being perfectly frank, the sex scenes are the scariest moments in the movie. Yes, the half naked demon sucking souls through private parts is scary, but the sex is more frightening. This film reminds me of the movie “KIDS”, the story of an HIV positive teen who wants to try and infect as many female virgins before he is caught. That film was terrifying because we knew he was killing people, and that’s why this film is scary as well. Jay is releasing her disease onto so many unsuspecting men...and women. Monroe does such an excellent job conveying that sinister behavior. Although it scares her, it liberates her as well.

“It Follows” might be a metaphor for practicing safe sex or abstinence. That is how many critics, including yours truly, view this film. It also shows us how dangerous people are. You really don’t know a person until you sleep with them. What you learn might be beautiful, or it might be the end of your life. As much as I liked this film, I had one major problem with it, and that’s with the demon itself. Director Mitchell made a choice in how he presented this beast, and for the most part it was a naked being.Yet, in another scene the beast was fully clothed.  Keep in mind only Jay and the other infected could see it, so why not always make it naked? Why do I have an issue with this? Nudity causes more fear in people then violence. There’s a reason “Love & Other Drugs” was R and “Avengers” was PG-13. I’ll give you a hint, one movie features Anne Hathaway naked the other features a Hulk. There are moments when I flat out laughed at the monster. One scene in particular featured a topless girl peeing down her leg and was missing teeth.

Besides the demonic identity crisis, “It Follows” is well made and clever for a genre throw back. We don’t have too many truly creepy films anymore. Even though I wasn’t truly scared, the creep factor was high. This isn’t an awarding winning film, and it’s not trying to be. It’s a fun little popcorn horror flick that is worth a viewing.  Note this, the film is doing so well that the studio wants a sequel. I really hope they don’t. This is a film that is better left on an open ended conclusion that has already sparked many debates.

scott kurlandComment