Oct 5, 2015

[Movies] It Follows (2014)

I repeatedly talk about how much I don't really like horror movies on this blog. I scary easy and I get nervous enough just on my own, what more with something like a stressful movie playing in front of me. In contrast, my partner Tobie loves horror movies and the horror genre in general. So every now and then, he manages to get me to watch a horror movie despite my better judgement.

It Follows is a supernatural horror movie that actually turned out to be something that I could handle a bit more since it was more psychological than anything else and it didn't rely too heavily on jump scares and other cheap gimmicks of the genre. Instead you still have some disturbing, frightening horror and that sense of dread and ultimately helplessness that colors the entire movie.

Then again, this is a horror movie that saw a premiere at Cannes, which sort of says something. You don't expect much genre entertainment at film festivals and so when a movie manages to get screened under such circumstances can be quite interesting.

Synopsis: It Follows is a supernatural horror movie written and directed by David Robert Mitchell. The movie initially premiered at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival and eventually saw a commercial release earlier this year.

The movie begins with a distraught young woman running for her life. She eventually ends up at the beach and makes a last call to her father. The next day is found dead - brutally murdered in fact. But it's not entirely sure what killed her or who might be responsible. We then meet Jay (Maika Monroe), a college student who seems normal enough. We follow her on a movie date with her boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary), but things end sooner than expected when he complains of a woman in the theater that Jay doesn't see.

The following date that they go on, they two have sex in Hugh's car but he decides to knock her own with chloroform. She wakes up tied to a wheelchair as Hugh rambles on about some sort of curse that he has now passed on to her. It involves some sort of entity that will inevitably follow the one bearing the curse until it kills her. Only she will be able to see it and nothing seems to be able to stop its advance. It cane take on many forms and it just walks inexorably forward towards the cursed individual. And true enough, a naked woman appears in the distance, fitting the conditions of the curse. Hugh them drives Jay off, away from the figure. But now Jay finds herself stalked by this entity and there's not much that can be done about it.

Now the whole movie reminded me of this YouTube video, "The Horribly Slow Murder with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon" by Richard Gale. (Side Note: I can't believe they're trying to raise funds for a full-length movie!) It's a comedy short that focused on a strange, seemingly unkillable creature that is infinitely patient but also significantly inefficient. Now this movie isn't a comedy and the entity that haunts Jay is hardly inefficient since it seems that death is inevitable once the creature finally catches its prey.

Here a similar concept is used to make the entity that much more menacing. The fact that it appears in a variety of forms can get pretty unnerving since Jay (and to some extent the audience) has to keep a look-out for the creature in different scenes and locations. It's always that one figure that seems to be out of place or heading in a different direction - or more specifically, in Jay's direction.

Good horror movies are about a feeling of helplessness yet still retaining hope. This movie nicely balances that since you do have a something that you can very well run away from easily enough. The only problem is that you can't run forever nor would you want to. And that's the real conflict here - trying to figure out what has triggered all this and perhaps find a way to stop it. Jay could have very well tried to just pass the curse along to someone else, but her decision not to is what makes her a heroic character in a very grim situation.

I'm not 100% sold on the ending, but I suppose it makes sense for the most part. The "rules" of the monster are never too clear and that's part of the fun. We don't have some old mystical person magically explain away how all this came to be or anything like that. Instead the movie is just all about that sense of inevitable dread as the creature or entity or whatever relentless stalks Jay with an intent to kill her. And that's a situation that's really not easy to handle over time.

It Follows is simple by design and thus comes out somewhat elegant. It's a great concept executed quite well in a manner that focuses on the horror and not cheesy special effects or something. So the movie gets a good 4 creepy figures in various states of undress out of a possible 5.


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