Don't Get Your Hopes Up
Don’t you just hate it when someone tells you that this movie is sooo amazing? You have to see it! You will absolutely love it! When I finally do see it, my reaction, with rare exceptions, is “Ehh. It’s okay.” I might’ve liked it more, if I hadn’t had it built up so much.
It Follows got rave reviews all throughout last year, and when I got to see it recently, all the good press had skewed my expectations. For anyone not in the know, our heroine, Jay (Maika Monroe), is being followed by a monster that will kill her if it catches her. She got it from her boyfriend, Hugh (Jake Weary), and could give it to someone else by sleeping with them, too. If it catches anyone, it goes back up the chain to whoever started it.[ref]The rules don’t make a ton of sense if you think about them, so I wouldn’t encourage it.[/ref]
This is not a bad movie, by any means. It certainly steers away from a lot of the tropes you might see in a more stab happy horror movie. But still, it wasn’t as engrossing as Let The Right One In, or as scary as The Babadook.
Much of the buzz I’d heard was focused on the monster being a metaphor for sexually transmitted infections. This would certainly be a novel twist on the usual sex and death conflation that gets tossed around so much. One thing that struck, me though, was that while this interpretation is there if you want it, but that’s not what the movie is most interested in. It treats the villain as a means of confronting our inevitable mortality in general.[ref]I think there’s some Nietzsche in there as well.[/ref]
Also, there were opportunities the premise sets up for us, but never fully explores. One of the things we’re told about the monster is that it can “look like a stranger in a crowd, or someone you know. Whatever it needs to get close to you.” I was waiting for Jay to run toward one of her friends, thinking she’s safe, only for that same friend to call out from behind her: “Jay! Where are you going?”
The monster doesn’t bother with this. It always appears as some creepy, obtrusive figure. If you have a good idea, make sure to put it in the movie. There’s a nod toward Jay recognizing one of the monster’s forms, namely (SPOILER in footnote)[ref]her absent father[/ref], but it’s a subtle nod.
Lastly, there’s an oddly timelessness to the setting. It’s a poor suburban town, apparently near Detroit. The kids have cellphones, but they’re from ten years ago. The cars and home furnishings are even older. This is obviously intentional, but I find that specificity is often more interesting than generality.
Oh, and before I forget, what the hell was up with (SPOILER)[ref]Greg sleeping with Jay at the hospital??? Did he not believe the monster was real, in spite of what they all just saw? Was he trying to protect Jay from it? Why did he seem to take no precautions against the monster afterward?[/ref]. That made me want to bang my head against the wall.
Huh. Maybe I liked It Follows less than I thought I did.