"It Follows" is a unique film indeed, but I can't say I truly enjoyed it. The original premise and the refusal of modern horror gimmicks deserve some praise, but it felt too long, masturbatory, and slow-paced for its little content, with a lot of disposable scenes and too vague outcomes. There are many symbolic, hard to explain films that offer multiple interpretations but offer some kind of emotional payoff in return. However, it was not the case with "It Follows". It just felt like the director purposely left everything vague, disjointed, and unexplained just for the sake of keeping people talking about it and finding clues. In short, the film thinks to be smarter than it actually is and ends up offering just a little more than the archetypes of hipster filmmaking.
A group of teenagers close to reaching adulthood has to deal with a sexually transmitted curse: the last infected person gets chased and killed by a shape-shifting creature. The creature is only able to walk in a straight line, but is always aware of where the victim is and never stops its journey. Once it gets to kill you, it will start chasing the person you received the curse from and so on. It is transmitted through sex, kills through sex, it tends to take the appearance of familiar people and is usually naked or in bed clothing.
The events are clearly set in the suburbs of Detroit, but it's nowhere in time, with seasons completely mixed up. Characters watch 50s movies on a vintage TV set, go to see "Charade" at a movie theater, but also ride modern cars and read books on a new generation e-reader. The characters spend their days doing nothing, lost in their teenage spleen, as they were aware of their futility and powerlessness. They sometimes do crazy things to get away from the curse, but adults are always absent and never intervene as if they didn't care.
David Robert Mitchell's direction intentionally steps away from classic slasher cliches and keeps the pacing extremely low, with a lot of static camerawork and silent scenes that convey the characters' melancholy and paranoia. Many wide and deep shots draw your eyes to what is happening afar as if we are continuously playing "where's Waldo?". Many times we are tricked into misunderstanding regular people with the creature. The film rarely relies on sounds and jump scares, with the creature mostly creeping from far away line instead of jumping in from the foreground. Music is minimal and, unfortunately, mostly sounds cheap and amateurish, with the same couple of themes repeated all over again. Something that you would get on your average hipster indie film.
People keep saying the creature represents STD's, but I have never heard of STD's that you can get rid of by passing them to someone else. As an interpretation it's also too literal for a film that tries to be such a smart ass. It could be a metaphor for the psychological effects of sexual abuse. Think about all those days that Jay passes lying down in her bed, depressed, continuously looking at her own body. People who did not experience it cannot "see" it, all they can do is trying to sympathize and imagine what it feels like. They try to help, but all they do backfires (God, that swimming pool scene). However, all the sex in the film is casual but definitely consensual, so it still doesn't make much sense. Maybe sex is seen as a means to temporally exorcise the awareness of death and its unavoidability? At first, you think that death does not belong to you, but the more you live and lose innocence (have sex), the closer its presence feels. In the end, Jay finally has sex with someone caring and loveable, but their relationship still feels disjointed. Anyways, no matter the interpretation, the film is overall interesting enough to watch, based on an original premise, but could have been better executed.
Action / Fantasy / Horror / Mystery / Thriller
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1 hr 40 min