It Follows is about Jay (Maika Monroe), a young woman who is followed by a vengeful spirit after a sexual encounter. If the spirit gets to you, you die, and it reverts to the person who gave it to you.
- It honors the genre: a teaser death in the beginning, fantastic synthesizer score a la 80s horror, a grindhouse style of filming, and slow, imminent “monsters.” The film proved that these historical aspects can still work today.
- Great literature. The movie uses quotes from The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S. Eliot to develop its meditations on death.
- Anachronistic setting. Basically the whole movie looks like it’s set in the late 80’s or early 90’s, but the opening scene involves a modern cell phone and one character carries makeup compact that is actually an e-reader. It was mildly annoying to be thinking, “When are we? Is everyone just a hipster? Is this just some small town that’s way behind? Is everyone just too poor to buy flat-screen TVs?” Toward the end of the film, it’s revealed that the location is Detroit and its suburbs. In reflection, the anachronism worked (more on this in the next section).
- Authentic dialogue and acting. The people reacted believably for the situation, and the dialogue rang true. There were moments of humor, grief, panic, conflict, and desperation.
Dark Muse Value
This movie gave me enough to sink my teeth into, meditating on some important themes.
- Coming-of-age. Some critics are saying the film is about STD transmission, but that’s too simplistic and superficial. Early sexual encounters are just the beginning. The film is full of adult acts and transitions: the loss of a father, early smoking and drinking, and finding a pornography stash. Water motifs throughout the movie represent birth and innocence. The characters in It Follows are on the verge of dry ground.
- Death. The literary quotes make it clear that the film is meditating on the imminence and inevitability of death, something you notice more the older you get. This was why the original Night of the Living Dead was so scary. Death was coming for you, and it would catch up with you eventually. In It Follows, the kids try all sorts of things to delay death. At the end, when the setting is revealed to be Detroit, a city synonymous with trying to escape death and failing, this is even clearer. As for the anachronism, the significance there is that death is timeless. It doesn’t matter when you are; it still follows.
What did you think?