It Follows: Horror Meets...STDs?
A Critic's Dream, My Nightmare
It Follows is a 2014 horror film directed by David Robert Mitchell. It’s been highly praised on Rotten Tomatoes, boasting a 95% rating and movie lovers have been talking about it ever since. To a horror fan like myself, watching this movie was a must. When it first arrived in theaters seven years ago, I didn’t take much interest in it. But after all the raving movie reviews on YouTube and Reddit, I had to see what it was all about.
And when I did...I was extremely disappointed.
The movie follows (literally) Jay (Maika Monroe), the latest victim of a cursed STD. Yes, you read that right. In one sentence, that is the premise of this film. Now, I’m not mad about that at all. It could’ve been a cool idea if executed properly, which is where this movie fails.
This strange curse is passed along to another person once the owner of the curse has sex with someone. So the main character was given the curse by a man she just started dating.
Well, that sucks, doesn’t it?
Luckily for Jay, he explains the curse to her quite thoroughly: “it” takes the shape of people. It can be anyone you know or do not know. “It” walks to you very slowly and once it reaches you, it will kill you. And once it kills you, it will go after the last person who received the curse.
Seems annoying, doesn’t it? But it does sound quite creepy, having a person slowly walking toward you. But this “monster” is one of the main reasons this movie fell flat for me. The monster does not stick to any lore and it takes me out of the film instantly.
First of all, “it” is supposed to walk toward you at all costs. But in some moments during the movie, “it: is standing completely still. At one point, “it” is on a roof just standing there...menacingly. Why does it randomly change its pathing and stop in its tracks?
"It” should always be walking toward the characters, no matter what. On a roof? Then have “it” walk off the roof. The legs of the monster will be broken and bleeding but it still slowly comes toward you.
And that brings me to my next point.
The monster can get hurt, but not really. There are several points in the movie where the characters try to kill “it.” The most common way is with a gun. When they shoot the monster, it falls to the ground only for a couple of seconds before getting back up. And even though the characters know this, they still keep trying to shoot it. I was getting so frustrated at this...you know it won’t work, so why waste time?
The next issue is about the monster’s physical presence. As I said before, only those who have received the curse can see “it.” But as viewers will see, later on, other people who are unable to see the monster can physically attack it.
So...does the monster just have some sort of invisibility power?
Because to my understanding, “it” shouldn’t even exist for those who haven’t received the curse. But for some reason, they’re able to attack it? That doesn’t make any sense.
Does “it” make sure not to run into anyone when making a beeline toward a character? Wouldn’t a car end up hitting an invisible figure? What’s the point of the curse then if everyone can attack it?
My head is spinning.
And lastly, this monster is supposed to kill you. That’s its purpose. There’s a character in the film that receives the curse and gets killed instantly. But when “it” comes up behind Jay, it...pulls her hair. “It” had more than enough time to snap Jay’s neck or do anything. But no, it just decided to give Jay a ponytail and give her friends enough time to attack it so that they could all make a getaway.
Because of these huge inconsistencies, I was unable to enjoy the movie. The movie failed to have a climax and simmered the whole hour and 47 minutes. Jay and her friends were completely incompetent the whole movie too, so it was hard to watch.
The opening scene set the tone quite well: cheesy. And what’s up with that opening scene anyway? Would she rather let the monster kill her than pass it on? Why was her death so gruesome? Does the monster kill in different ways?
Gosh, the questions never end with this one.
But no, this film wasn’t all bad. The cinematography was excellent and set the mood for the movie. The bleak saturation was parallel to the dread of Jay having to run away from death. It even had a well-received soundtrack. It was a very Stranger Things synth moment. But I thought the music was placed at all the wrong times for it to be successful.
And speaking of Stranger Things, what year is It Follows even set in? Throughout the movie, you’ll see antenna TVs, decor from the 70s, and a strange phone shaped like a clam.
What is going on?
And where are the parents? We see Jay and Kelly’s mother around maybe twice throughout the whole movie. One of Jay’s friends gets shot in the leg and her parents aren’t even in the hospital with her.
I don’t think a movie can be successful when there are so many unanswered questions. Sure, a movie can be mysterious and open-ended, but you can’t make up a new monster that seems to have no rhyme or reason to it.
The thing that bothered me the most about this film was that it had potential. Nothing upsets me more than a movie with potential being executed poorly. There were so many routes this film could’ve taken. In its simplest form, the monster could’ve taken the shape of everyone the character has slept with. So the main point would be that those experiences follow you forever.
Another route I would’ve taken is like the one before. The monster should take the shape of everyone that has seen you sexually. This is fitting because, at one point, the monster is a child. This child has peeped on Jay more than once in the film. A scarier theory is revealed later on because the monster takes the shape of Jay’s father. Jay’s father doesn’t seem to be around, but why is that? It would be a painful backstory for Jay to uncover.
There are several ways this movie could’ve been fixed to become a more solid movie. But thankfully, I’m not the majority here. It seems like most people who watch this movie enjoy it. Of course, I can’t see why, but I accept the differing opinions.
Was it the worst horror movie I’ve seen? No. Was it revolutionary? No. But do so many other people like it? Yep. And for that, I’m glad it had an impact on the horror community!
I give It Follows a 4/10.