It follows indeed. I now have Movie Pass (a card that allows you to see unlimited movies for \$30/month – http://movi.ps/referral). I love it. I’ve seen loads of movies this year. It Follows is the most recent. These micro reviews of the films’ storytelling are a way to catalog what I've seen and what I think about story. I dash them off. If you want to talk about the film, feel free to comment.
It Follows Review
It Follows was absolutely boring and a complete waste of a wonderful concept. There’s so little actual conflict. There is a lot of driving away. How terrifying is a monster that you can hop on a plane and fly away from? There’s no escalation of the stakes because there’s no logical plan to stop “the entity” because the entity is vaguely setup and few “rules” are ever established for how it functions. Sure, it follows you and it kills you. Is it punishment for sleeping with the wrong mate? Maybe. The first victim’s leg is broken and her neck snapped. The guy who gives it to Jay (protagonist) says “don’t let it touch you.” Yet, it grabs Jay no less than three times and she is fine. The second guy, Greg, was incestuously raped to death. It follows you only by walking. Maybe it can even walk into the water or over an ocean. Who knows? At the climax of It Follows, we learn that the entity is sentient and can form plans. Yes, that’s correct; we learn a critical ability of the man antagonist only near the end. The rest of the film it mindlessly shuffles. Oh, and it throws rocks in windows when it can’t open a door. Sometimes it takes on the appearance of people you know or love. Note: There is absolutely no emotional resonance for the appearance it takes during the climax. Why? We hadn't learned anything previously about that person. That’s poor storytelling.
Interpreting It Follows
What if it wasn’t about the entity, and what follows is supposed to serve as a larger metaphor. Well, it’s a poorly articulated metaphor. Sex Follows: Don’t have casual sex because it follows you everywhere you go. Eventually it destroys you. It will destroy your sexual partners along the way. Poor Decisions Follow: Don’t make decisions in the moment. Important decisions will follow you your entire life. They will hurt people along the way. Maybe it’s just social commentary: In our culture, decisions are made too casually. These decisions, like sex, have implications beyond the present. We also hurt the ones closest to us. I would get into the possible romantic metaphors, but I’ll leave that to a Red Pill / Alpha Male blogger. I wouldn’t bet money on any of those interpretations because of the fatalistic ending. Most reviewers stretch the vague rhetorical implications of the film to fit their own agenda or lens.
Learning from It Follows
I don’t want this to be merely a rant of why I didn’t like It Follows. It could’ve improved by crafting sequences that actually had conflict. One solution is to take away driving or biking away as an option. It was fine for that to happen the first time, but you want conflict to escalate. Imagine if the car had broken down. Then Jay would’ve been stuck running, which is way more dream-like. It also would’ve forced her to come up with more creative ways to stop the entity. I’m sorry, but trying to shoot it? On three separate occasions?!?! It didn’t work the first time! It’s not going to work the second or third times!! Insanity. Also, running upstairs to escape is never a good idea. Another thing that would’ve improved the story is clear rules for the entity. Let’s go back to the car issue. This is a trickster ghoul. It’s intelligent enough to appear as people you may know. It knows not to fall for the idiotic trap they set at the climax. It can break through windows and attack people that don’t see it. Apparently, it’s not smart enough to flatten tires. Imagine Jay getting into a car and trying to drive off, but the tires are flat, so she has to slowly drive in car on flat tires while it follows in the rearview. There weren’t enough well-crafted obstacles in the film. Imagine a policeman pulling Jay over. The entity approaches as she talks to the officer. She freaks out. He can’t see it. He handcuffs her to restrain her and it is approaching during this entire sequence. It’s nerve-wracking! Why? because she has two antagonists agitating the scene from two different worlds. There’s an immediate threat and a larger one more present. This story only dealt with the larger threat and gave easy outs. There’s nothing suspenseful about being able to drive away from your threat. You could even bike away, or run, or jog, or skip. The first victim we see die, died only because she gave up. I suppose I should say something nice about it. Coming of age is important It was wise to use characters at the end of their teenage years. It was interesting visually. The rig used in Jay’s introduction was good. The 360 spin in the school and the choice to use lots of wide shots was a good one. The naked man standing on the roof scene was also creepy. The attempt to set the film in an indiscriminate era was good, but it just looked like the early 1990’s with cheap eReaders to me. The color grading was a good choice, though. I hope Unfriended doesn’t disappoint me as much as It Follows.
This film has become a sort of critical indie horror darling. It’s praised for its originality and intelligence. I guess the horror genre is so piss poor these days that most people are easily impressed, especially when Dostoyevsky and T.S. Eliot are referenced. I wish Roger Ebert was still alive.
It Follows Rating: 2.5 out of 10
1-3: Horrible. I regret subjecting myself to this
4-5: Just below average, but not a complete waste of time
6: I didn’t waste my time, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it again
7-8: Accomplished what it set out to do and I’d watch it again
9-10: Nearly perfect. Highly recommend it as art