Mike Sullivan tells movie goers to get up and go see “It Follows” as soon as possible
Look, I know I’m late to the party with this. What I’m about to type is something that most of you already know and are probably bored with. I’m well aware that I’m the guy who walks into a record store and smugly asks the clerk if they’ve ever heard of a little group called Black Flag.
But with all of that said, I’m still not the last person in the world to write this, and for my fellow stragglers out there, you need to know that “It Follows” is very good. Future classic good. The kind of good that will be copied and ripped off by so many future horror movies that in 10 years’ time, “It Follows” will look clichéd and tired. You need to see this movie now. Right now. Do it, dammit! Don’t be a flower! Go.
Before I go any further, I need to stress that “It Follows” is the kind of movie that needs to be seen with as little prior knowledge as possible. Knowing the premise behind this movie or even just being aware of its odd stylistic choices could possibly spoil the experience for some viewers.
“It Follows” needs to be seen cold. “It Follows” is based around a concept so ridiculous that, in clumsier hands, it wouldn’t work as a 10-to-1 sketch on “Saturday Night Live.” In the film, Maika Monroe (who’s first seen wading around in a filthy above ground pool) plays a young woman who’s dating Jake Weary, a mysterious man who lives on the outskirts of town and refuses to go anywhere that doesn’t have at least two exits. After a seemingly innocent sexual encounter with Weary, Monroe finds herself tied to a wheelchair as Weary reveals that he’s passed on his curse to her. Monroe will be followed by a shape-shifting monstrosity that only she can see. The spectre will follow her until it kills her or whenever she passes the curse on to a new sexual partner. If this monster kills her before the curse is passed, it will go back to stalking Weary.
Sounds kind of stupid, right? Well, cool your jets there, Spaceman Spiff. As goofy as the premise sounds, it fits perfectly within the surreal nightmare framework of “It Follows.” Seemingly taking place in a universe where the ‘90s never ended and the Midwest has just recovered from some horrifying apocalyptic event (or is it merely on the cusp of one?), “It Follows” oozes menace and dread but also manages to be lyrical and strangely beautiful. Shots go on far longer than they should but capture a level of poignancy and horror that is rare. The performances are cold, distant, apathetic; and yet the characters’ bored, non-reactions to their hopeless situation is disturbing. It’s a strange, career-defining effort exemplified by an ominous, electronic score and by its relentless, ever-changing antagonist who sometimes resembles a familiar face while other times something far more unsettling. Such as a nude old man, a gaunt 7-foot giant in heavy eye shadow or a fanged, topless woman in one sock who can’t stop pissing on herself.
Stylistically, “It Follows” owes a heavy debt to the films of Calvin Lee Reeder, specifically his freshman effort “The Oregonian.” Like that film, “It Follows” has sparked a lot of long-winded debate over what it really means (self-styled Reddit “geniuses” have already decreed that “It Follows” is really about unwanted teen pregnancy, the death of childhood and PTSD amongst other subjects. Writer/director David Robert Mitchell has merely noted that his film was based on a reoccurring nightmare).
But unlike “The Oregonian” the weirdness here is a lot less strained and far more organic. Mitchell has given us a film that’s indelibly nauseating and ably recreates the experience of being locked inside a thrift store with a dangerous sexual predator. But more importantly, he should be applauded for matter-of-factly reminding us that women fart too and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Take a bow Mitchell, you did it.