It Follows (2014)

itfollows0120 minutes of previews?

First, we are treated to the wholly unnecessary remake of Poltergeist, a movie that was almost perfect in its original incarnation.  We see several of the same exact same beats — the houses built over the cemetery, the clown, the ghostbuster, the hands on the TV, the killer tree.  I can’t see this through the eyes of an 18 year old, but to anyone who saw the original back in the day, this preview pales on almost every point; and pales literally, since it is so dark.

Much of the success of the original was that it was constructed on sunny days, a new neighborhood, clean streets,and with a happy family with 2.5 kids — it was the Stephen King / Richard Matheson horror-in-our-own-neighborhood concept.  Everything in this trailer goes for the cliched dark motif. The “harmless” toy clown is now sports an evil smirk, the new home is described as a fixer-upper, even the absolutely radiant blonde original Carol Anne is now a brunette.

And JoBeth Williams might have been the first MILF, even before there was an acronym for the phenomena.  No one who enjoyed the original can be looking forward to this.

Insidious was fun.  Insidious 2 was fun, but got a little too busy in the final act.  Insidious 3 does not look like fun.  Like the Poltergeist remake, all of the scares in the trailer are cheap jump-scares.  And, for the love of God, can we have one movie that Lin Shaye is not in?  OK, she’s not in Poltergeist, but she has 10 movies in 2015 so far in IMDb.  Give someone else a chance.

On the other hand, Unfriended is not a sequel, looks like a low-budget joint and I didn’t recognize a single person in it.  Yet, miraculously, I actually got several real chills from its preview, and not a single goose-bump from the other two.  Maybe it will be crap, but it is the only one I could care less about seeing.

Each of these trailers was not 6+ minutes long, so there must have been others, but they were so uninteresting that I have forgotten them a few hours later.

And, hey Regal Cinema — no one cares about your nagging, product-placement-loaded roller coaster.  Yes, texters should be killed — I think we can all agree on that — but you’re just delaying the movie another minute.

And now our feature presentation . . .

itfollows02After seeing the film, I read many interpretations of It Follows.  I don’t know that I really subscribe to any of them.  Is it a metaphor for adolescence?  For a budding young love affair?  For an STD?  Does the water represent innocence?  Don’t know, don’t care.

We are thrust into the narrative immediately as we see a girl run from her house in a snappy lingerie set and spiked heels.  How this ensemble was put put together is not explained, but is worthy of later reflection by the viewer.  Her father comes after her, but she runs back into the house, presumably to get car keys as Victoria’s Secret still refuses to put pockets in their panties.  She ends up at the beach, dead with a leg bent at the knee — the wrong way.

After having the sex with Jay in the backseat of a car, Hugh chloroforms her and ties her to a chair. He explains to her and to us that he has passed along a curse (although that word is never used, so thank God no one is trotting out the menstruation metaphor again).  A thing is now going to follow her, but must never be allowed to catch her.  Only she and previous owners of the curse can see this thing which can take the form of anyone.  It is not clear why he ties her to a chair to make his point, as he does untie her and take her home (i.e. dumps her in the street) when the thing arrives.

The bulk of the movie is the very slow Michael Myers / Walking Dead speed pursuit of Jay (who is a teenage girl, BTW), sometimes across many miles of country.  The relentlessness of the pursuit provides an over-arching suspense, and periodic battles with the thing provide some good scares and action.  Like the Terminator, it absolutely will not stop until Jay is dead; or passes the curse to someone else via sex.  And once Jay is dead, it will go back up the food-chain and kill Hugh.

The thing always shows up in the form of a person and only visible to Jay.  On the first sighting, it is a completely naked woman.  Other times, the thing takes the form of other women and men, some of which Jay recognizes.  Kind of like er . . . The Thing.  So the suspense is heightened — as in Paranormal Activity — by the viewer constantly being on the lookout for anyone in the background who could become a threat.

The viewer is also subtly kept off-balance by the indeterminate time of the film.  Like the hatch in Lost which had an eclectic mixture of new appliances and 1970s stereo, there are conflicting signals.  The cars all seen to be old family trucksters, but one girl seems to be reading from a clam-shell Kindle.  Or maybe it is a cell-phone — if it is, it is the only cell-phone in the movie and is never used as one.

All of this keeps the viewer constantly on edge, and makes for a great experience. There is some wailing and moaning about a couple of scenes or unanswered questioned, but are you going to obsess over details, or have a good time?

Highly recommended.


  • Despite all the references to other titles above, I never once felt like this was unoriginal.
  • For some reason I can’t figure out, the thing frequently shows up totally or partially naked.  This is not as good as it sounds as it rarely takes the form of anyone you want to see naked.  Especially the naked guy standing on the roof — to be fair, he does thankfully appear to be wearing a Speedo, or is maybe is in desperate need of some manscaping.
  • I took an immediate dislike to the score other than in the set-pieces.  It seems to be praised everywhere else, though, so I am willing to chalk that up to a tin ear.

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