Lately, the movie It Follows has gained a ton of worth-of-mouth buzz (click that link… it’s a great article). It’s the horror movie that seems to be taking America (and probably other countries) by storm. And to be 100% honest, I don’t get it.
My original Facebook post after seeing the movie was:
If you’re craving an anachronistic, slow-burning, 70s style horror movie about ghost STDs and co-starring Daria, It Follows is the movie for you.
Great cinematography. Dumb concept
And–god dammit–I stand by that comment. But it sparked a ton of outrage from some people who tend to make mountains of molehills. One in particular–who we will call “Chad Betterthanyou”–pointed out that it got a 98% on Rotten Tomatoes. I pointed out that Rotten Tomatoes is the Wikipedia of critical sites, but I also have to admit its great review is basically the reason I paid theater money to see this movie. I also checked Ebert and he gave it 4.5 stars.
First of all, let me say that I have a B.A. in English Writing and minor in Philosophy from a pretty decent university. Subtlety, metaphor, and weird shit are basically what I studied for six years in college (also majored in Poverty and minored in Unemployment–and yes… I did say 6 years. Pick a major and stick with it, kids). I loved Visioneers (watch it today, right now), Children of Men, Halloween, and Dog Day Afternoon (to name but a few). I have no problem with slow-burning, metaphorical, ambiguous movies. Those are the things I hear most about It Follows. I’ve been told I just don’t get it. That “it’s too metaphorical and ambiguous for American audiences.” “It’s an homage to 70s horror. And you just weren’t a fan.”
And I’m here to say: Bull. The Fuck. Shit.
No one has been able to explain to me what’s so ambiguous or metaphorical that it’s just over my head. Sex as a metaphor for lost innocence? Been done in every horror movie since… ever. It doesn’t take a film arts professional to see the parallel between the slow-moving-but-inevitable It Follows villain and Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers or old-school zombies. The anachronism was explained to me as a reference to symptoms of sufferers of PTSD. I get that. It had some cool gimmicks. And–I cannot express this enough– the cinematography was freaking amazing. One of the best I’ve seen in a modern film of its genre (or any genre, really). A beautiful homage to 70’s horror (as was the soundtrack).
But the script seemed shallow and it wasn’t so much a horror movie as a thriller. No real scares. The movie was all about tension. Again, that’s fine, but–people who are championing this movie–don’t tell me this is the scariest movie I’ll ever see and then do nothing to actually scare me.
It Follows featured a lot of interesting gimmicks. Those gimmicks tend to be geared toward film fanatics and no one else. Remember the Steve Martin/Eddie Murphy movie Bowfinger that was pretty much entirely based on inside Hollywood jokes? Yeah… barely anyone does. “Oh… FedEx never delivers scripts on time. Har Har Har.” There’s a movie on Netlfix called Animal that I got a kick out of because it’s a modern movie that used practical effects to an excellent end. But the story (and movie in general, honestly) is shiiiiiiit. Great elements do not always add up to a great movie; especially if they’re something only scholars of the genre or industry insiders will notice.
It Follows is–to me–one of those movies that uses a lot of high-end gimmicks to make you feel like you’re watching something very intellectual, but is really just a sort of enjoyable movie without a ton of substance. It’s not “polarizing” so much as it either gets 5 stars or 3. I don’t think anyone who likes horror films (especially with a sweet spots for 70s slow-burners) will hate it. It’s worth a watch whenever it comes out streaming, but I wouldn’t spend money to see it in theaters.
Billy is a freelance writer living in Indianapolis with his dog, BoJack. He enjoys TED talks, video games, sunny days, football, and the salty tears of his enemies.