RADIUS-TWC / DIMENSION FILMS (2014)

Director: David Robert Mitchell

Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Daniel Zovatto, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi, Lili Sepe

It Follows is a horror film that dispenses with many horror clichés yet manages to have one of the weakest key plot devices – you can receive and pass on a curse via sex (it sounds worse when you say it aloud) I can hear many disagreeing with that but, for me, it’s slightly preachy – whatever the directors/writers theory behind it is - if you have sex, you may DIE! (just bang your enemies and be done with them).

 

However, the fact that if the carrier of ‘it’ is caught and killed, the process reverses back to the previous incumbent is a good twist ensuring you can never, ever feel safe again. A good element of a not so good element.

The central villain, or “it” I guess the proper title would be, is a clever idea. A completely mysterious entity that simply walks very slowly after you, and will not stop until you are dead or have passed the curse on (yes, via sex) is a creepy idea – as it could be anyone, every time you are out and someone is walking towards you, does this mean it’s your time again? It’s good that the evil is never truly explained, as too many movies now spend far too much time spelling out every detail on the baddie which kills the mystery. If the carrier went to another country though, how would the evil walk across the ocean?

 

It would have also been more engaging for me if Jay’s character hadn’t been meant to be so obviously attractive for young men – if she wanted she could probably find any man to fill with her curse. Yes the moral issue of potentially issuing someone else’s death warrant is always apparent, but wouldn’t you rather live? A different casting would’ve potentially made me more invested in the plights of the characters. There was nothing wrong with Maika Monroe’s performance, in fact she was pretty good and a likeable character. Her gentle (constant) rebuffs of Paul/Captain Friendzone were caring, and her fear of the entity wasn’t over exaggerated. All of the cast were generally likeable people, no real issues there – Yara was stereotypically highly intellectual in the likes of Dostoevsky and Greg looked like Jack White, but other than that it was a solid joint effort. Kier Gilchrist’s character Paul was affable and consistent if nothing else, persistently chasing Jay sexually and caringly.

 

What the film did well was create a sense of mystery. Obviously the entity was never fully explained, but the movie contained many strange elements. Every TV show that played was antiquated and in black and white, and also shown on clunky old style televisions. Hugh owned a very shiny looking car that looks like it’s from the 1970’s. Even the cards that they all play are vintage. Just what is that clam shaped e-reader that Kelly is using? Why did Jay and Kelly’s father appear at one point? When does this movie take place, or is there even an era?

 

The film’s conclusion at first left me feeling slightly ‘meh’, however on reflection it could actually be a solid ending for a movie which, as mentioned before, discarded many overdone clichés. Captain Friendzone is involved finally, however the seemingly innocuous, and quite nice, ending could also harbour a tragically defiant secret – not overly subtle, but framed just right to be noticeable. It is by all means an ambiguous ending, nothing is definitively answered, just questions raised.

 

It Follows succeeded by creating an air of mystery, and maintaining it - not falling into the trap of over explaining and taking away the fear factor, and also by not being a mere rehash of so many other movies (though Mitchell should buy John Carpenter a drink soon). However, it falls down with the central plot device, the messages it sends, the entity not really threatening heavily (always there, never nearly enough) and the personal issue with the casting (again, Monroe did a fine job in the role) it wins points for originality, but it just didn’t do enough for me and left me waiting for something more.

 

Plus, why on earth would you shoot a gun at an invisible being with someone standing behind ‘it’…?!

October 30th 2016

© 2016 Matt Hudson / What I Watched Tonight / Essex

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