Wednesday, July 27, 2016

It Follows

In the months prior to the movie’s release, It Follows had started to gain quite a following (pardon the pun) and a lot of attention after it debuted at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.  I’ve got to admit, just the marketing alone had me wanting to see this flick.  One of the posters (which I’ve featured at the top of this review) that had been released reminded me so much of an early 80s slasher movie poster that I was going to see this movie, trailer-unseen.  Let me tell you, I’m still waiting for the 80s-style horror movie resurgence, where we can get a few horror movies a year and have droves of people waiting in line to see who, or what, is the new icon of fright.  I mean, why aren’t we getting another Friday the 13th?  Or Halloween?  I hear there’s another sequel to Jeepers Creepers that Victor Salva is trying to get released…what gives?

Well, until then, I’ll still try to find a gem within these new horror movies, but it’s a very tough job to do so, to waste my time with a bunch of crap that is marketed to teens rather than to horror fans.  Movies like Unfriended or #Horror…yes, we get it, filmmakers, you’re trying to get the Facebook and Twitter millennials to relate to your movies—it’s not working.

I don’t know how many times I try out a new horror movie only to turn it off soon after starting it.  Usually, it’s because the film will start off with a group of teens in high school, using slang and phrases that exclude me as an audience member because I just can’t relate to the teenagers of this day and age.  Sometimes I wonder, Am I just getting old?  Am I turning into one of those old fogies who is stuck in their own time?  I don’t think so.  Because there are plenty of good horror movies out—although you have to look high and low for them—that I’ve enjoyed and have decided to even purchase to own on Blu-Ray.

Anyway, unfortunately, I hadn’t found time to see this flick when it was released to theaters a couple of years ago, choosing to wait until it was available on home media and having it sent to me from Netflix.  So without further ado, here’s the breakdown of the film.

A young woman, Jay (Maika Monroe), is given a curse by a boy she’d been going out with, Hugh (Jake Weary), after having sex with him.  The curse is having an unknown supernatural force follow her until it will reach her and kill her.  She has to keep moving to stay away from the unstoppable force—which can change its appearance and can look like anyone—but it’s unrelenting and, sooner or later, will eventually catch up to her.

Before getting into the main meat of the story, the opening of It Follows gave me a lot of hope that this movie would be awesome as we’re immersed into what happens to someone who is pursued by the supernatural force.  We’re introduced to a young woman named Annie (Bailey Spry) as she’s running out of her house early in the morning, appearing to be chased by something or someone, though we don’t see anyone.  She’s visibly frightened as she takes her parents’ car and drives off.  The movie sort of fooled me here because I’d thought this was the main character of the film, but she ends up at the beach of a lake and just kneels there, crying and apologizing to her parents.  I say it fooled me since the film soon cuts forward and we see that Annie’s now dead, broken into awful shapes as she’s mutilated, dead.

So that’s our introduction to the subject of the film, still a little mysterious, but we get some explanation in the next scene which is the introduction to our main character, Jay.  It starts nicely enough, seeing her on a movie date night with her boyfriend, Hugh, and they seem to be having a good time.  They start to play a game as to guess who the other has pointed out mentally in the theater.  When Hugh picks out a girl whom Jay says she doesn’t see, his face goes from happy to concerned and they end up leaving the movie.  Ending up parked somewhere, they engage in sex and afterwards, things get weird.  Jay finds herself gagged and tied up in some hollowed out building where Hugh explains that she has just been given a curse that he has passed on to her, saying that “it” will come after her and pursue her until “it” kills her.  The only way to avoid it is to have sex with someone else which will pass on the curse to them.  But if that person dies, the curse will come back to her.  If she dies, back to him.

Hugh drops Jay off in front of her house, date-rape-style, and takes off.  Folks, this is where our main story begins.

Now, I stop there, because…well…it really does stop—well…slows down quite a bit—there.  At this point in the movie, we’re introduced to Jay’s sister, Kelly (Lili Sepe), and her friends, Paul and Yara (Keir Gilchrist and Olivia Luccardi, respectively).  They all live some sort of hum-drum life and we’re shown that fully, seeing them just sit around and discussing menial topics.

I do like the choice of music in It Follows, how they went with the synthesizer score, giving the movie more of an 80s vibe than it already had.  But…it seemed to only have depressing sounds and never went into a light note anywhere in the film.  It didn’t necessarily make this film bad, but I do like some horror films to contain some funny scenes or areas of the film where life is good for the characters.  The movie just had a depressing tone throughout and that kind of put me off, especially when I ask myself the question I usually ask when watching a movie that may or may not be good: Would I buy this on Blu-Ray for my personal collection?  With this film…no.  However, I’ve thought about this movie quite a bit since I’ve seen it and have had thoughts about seeing it again, so I’d say that’s a good sign pointing to this movie being pretty good.

Though there are some lulls within the film, when “it” shows up to hunt Jay, it’s pretty terrifying and intense at times.  The aspect of this hook makes you feel Jay’s despair and helplessness, just knowing that there’s nothing she can do, that the force will never stop until it catches up to her.  So the film continues on this way—some breaks where we see Jay floating around in an outdoor pool or moping around with Paul and Yara—until she decides to track down Hugh, the boy who had passed on the curse to her.

Written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, the man only has a few productions under his belt with one coming out next year, but it really showed that he knew what he wanted here in It Follows.  Mitchell definitely gave the film an 80s look and feel, adding a lot of John Carpenter Halloween flair with the slow, yet constant pursuit, by the evil in this film.  You even get a taste of George Romero’s film-styling since the force that comes after its victims looks and acts like an unrelenting zombie.  To add to all this, it appears Mitchell didn’t want the film to have an era easily established in the story; you, as the audience, really can’t tell when this story takes place.  Cars that are present look to be from different time periods, older televisions play into some of the plot, and there isn’t much technology—I like that.  Nothing ages a movie more quickly than including tech of its time—after a few years, that tech looks ancient.

Well, I think I’ve discussed this film as much as I can…my final “bit” on It Follows?

It’s a very interesting and original film, though the plot may seem a bit juvenile when explained—a curse that’s passed around when you have sex with someone.  However, that’s soon placed on the backburner once you get into this film.  The cinematography is interesting, more of an arthouse type of production with inventive ways of shooting certain scenes, and it will capture your attention.  The opening is great, the final climax is awesome, it’s just the middle that you’ll have to be patient and understand that it’s a slow-burn character build-up.  The ending leaves it open-ended and can easily have a sequel, which the director expressed interest in doing so, but I haven’t heard any movement in that respect.  I highly recommend It Follows, especially if you’re a horror fan stuck in the 80s and looking for a shining gem to bring back that nostalgia for you.

Thanks for reading!

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