'It Follows...'

by SR James 2 years ago in movie review

And Now I Want a Restraining Order

'It Follows...'

Where do I start with this afterschool special on steroids? I feel like this film was inspired by the infamous Mean Girls quote, "Don't have sex, because you will get pregnant, and die," because the entire thing just seems like it was made to scare kids off the idea of sex.

Abandon all hope ye who enter here, because the road of this article is paved with spoilers...

The basic premise of this film is that a supernatural entity's presence is passed from person to person by having sex. You're being followed by this poltergeist, you fuck someone, and now they're really fucked because the demon is following them. Simple.

The film opens with a young girl fleeing an unseen threat, and we then find her mutilated body on the beach (that picture up there), an opening like that gave me high hopes that I was entering a real gore-fest. Unfortunately, that turned out to be the best part of the 100-minute long flick.

We then meet our protagonist, a pretty college student called Jay, who's on a date with her new boyfriend Hugh at the cinema when he points out a girl behind them that Jay can't see, and they leave hurriedly. I'm not going to describe every filler-scene in which we meet the friends and family of our main characters; it just isn't worth it, so walk with me as I take you on a brief tour of the more prominent parts of the film and crack terrible jokes about it, won't you? You don't even have to laugh, I'm not sure even my sarcasm can make this utter crap funny.

So, Jay and Hugh are on a lovely romantic date having sex in Hugh's car, and as Jay bathes in the afterglow of a good fuck, Hugh lays down on top of her and chloroforms her from behind. What a charmer.

She wakes up tied to a wheelchair in her knickers and bra (could you really not have at least put her t-shirt on her, fella?) under a bridge and sits there, probably freezing cold, as Hugh explains that he's now passed a sort of supernatural infection on to her. A spirit that can manifest as either her best friend or a stranger —"whatever it needs to get close to you"—will follow her, always at a walking pace, and if it touches her she dies and the spirit returns to the person who it was tethered to before her: in this case, it's good ol' Hugh.

A naked chick begins to walk towards Jay, whom Hugh can see since he's had the "infection" before, and he drives her home, throwing her in just a t-shirt (finally decided to give the girl some dignity, huh Hugh?) on to the road and speeding away like the chloroform-toting coward he is. Her sister happens to be sitting out on the porch with a friend or two and the police are called.

The next day, neither the naked girl (surprise, surprise) nor Hugh can be found; but it is discovered that Hugh was living under a fake ID. Jay goes to school as normal, but finds that an old woman in a hospital gown is watching her from outside the classroom window, and she leaves in a rush, speeding up as the woman follows at the predicted walking pace while looking creepy. If the spirit manifested as this woman the entire film, it'd probably have been good enough for me to shrug and say "Eh, won't watch it again, probably," and then say no more, but this is the last we see of Creepy Hospital Granny, which is unfortunate because now I'm here typing out my annoyance at the lack of scares in a supernatural horror/thriller.

Back at home, her sister and friends, Paul and Yara, agree to spend the night and protect her from the spirit, but at this point you can tell they're just humouring her because of the trauma with Hugh and don't really believe a sex-ghost is after her. Would you?

Lucky for Jay, a kitchen window is smashed, and while Paul investigates, the ghost manifests as a scruffy-looking woman having a piss while it walks toward her. Yeah, incontinence is scary stuff, but I'm not going to hide behind the couch in case it comes to get me, I'm going to do Kegel exercises to hold it off until I'm old enough for it to be inevitable.

In terror, Jay flies upstairs to hide in a room with the others, and the ghost now appears as a man who doesn't seem to have eyes, whom, let's bear in mind, no one she's with can see. She exits the house quick-smart and bumps into her slightly attractive grungy neighbour Greg, who helps her to find Hugh's real name—Jeff—and the group tracks him to his real address. Hugh/Jeff explains that he "caught" the ghost after a one night stand, and that Jay has to pass it on because if it kills her it'll come back for him. He's not exactly Prince Charming, more concerned with his own well-being than the fact he's sentenced Jay to die unless she does the selfish thing and gives it to someone else.

Still merely humouring poor Jay, Greg takes them all to his family's lakehouse and teaches her how to use a gun so she feels safer. While at the beach, the entity takes on the guise of Jay's sister, Kelly, but Jay knows it isn't really her and flees into a shed. She shoots it, causing it to fall down, but not to die. The shed's flimsy wooden door is slammed shut, and shifting to a scarier looking ghost, it breaks through the door (the only jump-scare in the entire film), causing Jay to flee in terror... again... in Greg's car, abandoning the rest of them at the beach. She crashes the car and wakes up in hospital with a broken arm.

Charitable Greg gives Jay a pity fuck, not believing in the curse/ghost/spirit/whatever it is, but days later Jay spots "Greg" breaking in to his own house and tries to call the real Greg to warn him, getting no answer. She runs across the street and straight into his house, pounding up the stairs to find the demon has decided to become Greg's mother, half naked, and is slamming on his door loudly. Since Greg is convinced the whole thing was just Jay's response to a traumatic experience, he opens the door and is immediately killed by his "mum." Surprise, surprise, the spirit is now re-thethered to Jay.

Paul, who fills the cliché spot of nerdy-looking-boy-best-friend-in-love-with-girl-best-friend, offers her sex to take the spirit off her hands and she refuses him. I get that she doesn't want her best friend to be followed around by weird looking ghosts, but come on, the guy's willing and you're apparently terrified—let him stick it in you and fulfill his wet dreams, for fuck's sake, Jay?

But, since Jay isn't willing to pass it on to anyone else, the group formulates a plan to kill the entity: they'll lure it to a swimming pool and electrocute it once it's in the water. I mean, bullets barely hurt it earlier on in the film, but sure, I'll play along and pretend this plan isn't absolute bullshit.

Jay waits in the centre of the pool as various electric devices like toasters and televisions are lined around the pool, the rest of the group waiting to throw them in once the spirit has put on a bathing suit and joined Jay for an evening swim.

When the spirit arrives, it's taken the form of Jay's father—who happens to not be in the picture for some reason or other—and it begins to kick the electric devices into the pool itself, which magically do nothing to harm Jay. Yeah, really solid plan guys.

Paul asks Jay to point to the spirit and keep her finger trained on it as he picks up a gun and shoots at it, missing and getting poor Yara in the leg, who not only barely makes a squeak at the bullet now lodged in her flesh, but is ignored by Paul, who doesn't even acknowledge that he shot her. I am no longer playing along and pretending this drivel makes sense. Good Lord, this film is a shitshow.

Someone—the sister, I think—has the good sense to throw a sheet over the spot Jay is pointing at, making the target visible to Paul who is suddenly a perfect shot and manages to shoot it in the head, causing it to fall into the pool... but not die. It grabs on to Jay and pulls her underwater, trying to drown her, but sharp-shooter Paul fires on it repeatedly and Jay hoists herself from the water as Paul asks if it's dead yet. Jay sees the pool filling with blood and assumes that it is.

Paul's wet dreams finally come true as he has sex with Jay, but he doesn't seem entirely convinced that the entity is dead, as we then see him driving slowly past some prostitutes, presumably contemplating whether or not to have sex with someone else to be on the safe side, but he doesn't.

The film ends with Paul and Jay walking down the street holding hands and —shock, horror, gasp—something is following them. Who saw that uniquely unpredictable twist coming?

I found a few articles, during my research of the film after watching it, that explained to me how little things like the odd time-period (a mix of everything from the 1950s to 2010-onwards) and the strange discrepancies in seasonal changes (one minute the protagonist is swimming outdoors in an unheated pool, the next in a winter coat) are done to add a sense of uncertainty, akin to The Shining, and for those reviewers they made the film seem pure genius. Unfortunately for this viewer, the rest of the movie was so awful I hadn't even noticed these little differences and they had no effect on me.

I don't want to have to do a visual scavenger hunt to find the scary parts of a film; I want to be scared by the film itself as well as off-kilter background elements.

One hundred minutes of my life that I will never get back, all to tell me that sex has dangerous consequences. It Follows has a terrible (in the loosest sense of the word) plot, minimal fear-factor, and a predictable sequence of events followed by a predictable ending. I know in this day and age original ideas are hard to come by, and I love Mean Girls, but an entire film that seems to be based around a single line from a teen romcom? Bitch, please. I want my 100 minutes back.

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SR James
Conservative-hating feminist who writes about pretty much whatever pops into her head. Big fan of dead trees with tattoos. Twitter @SRJWriter

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