It Follows (2014)

I prefaced my review of “The Babadook” by saying I don’t like the horror genre and actively avoid it, but was stunned by how great of a film that was. I had the same reaction to “It Follows”. While I don’t think it’s thematic content and coherency is as strong as that of “The Babadook”, I think “It Follows” is much more impressive in terms of visuals. It’s an excellent film, so good it can make someone utterly disinterested with horror like me wildly enthused with it.

The premise is engaging from the start; a monster that can take the form of anyone (yet is invisible to everyone but one) follows that cursed person until they pass their curse onto another through sexual contact – but if that new person is killed, the monster again begins pursuing the last target. The film builds tension and crafts some creative setpieces around this concept, and it’s fascinating thematically. Is it a simple STD/STI metaphor? Is it a more nuanced metaphor for the human struggle for mortality, one being aware of their unavoidable death, but able to in some way continue themselves through sexual contact (and consequent progeny)? I lean toward the latter, because I think a reading based around the very animalistic need to reproduce and continue one’s line is more fascinating than a fairly straightforward sexual disease metaphor. Or is the film instead focused more on psychosexual concepts like sexual development and how it relates to becoming an adult? I read a particularly Freudian analysis online that posited Greg as the id, the three men in the boat as the ego, and Paul as the superego. I think the fact the film never got too direct with it’s thematic focus, and keeps it more mythic than detailed, is good because it more readily allows for varied analysis such as that.

The worldbuilding is fun, with one girl reading Dostoevsky off a clamshell make-up device rather than an e-reader as we know them, the television sets being decades older than other technology in the film, and the fashion style of the characters being a strange hodgepodge of various decades. Little things like this make the film more engaging than a more conventional horror.

The film fell apart for me in the third act. While I liked the very ending, the big pool setpiece felt silly to me, and dragged on for a long while, finally terminating what was previously quite propulsive pacing. I also found the outright quoting of Dostoevsky at the end grating, and it really hurt when the film had handled its thematic focus quite strongly previously.

I love the creativity of the film, I adore the 1980s throwback score, and the general cinematic construction of the film is strong. I felt the story eventually dragged, and the cast of characters were never particularly interesting, but that doesn’t prevent the film from being one of my absolute favourite horror films.

I give it three and a half pools, and a lake house.

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