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Thursday, April 2, 2015

It Follows (2014) Horror Monster

It Follows (2014) - Going to the movies is something I avoid as much as possible. You always have to make the decision of going in on time to get the seat you want and having to sit through 25 minutes of previews, or showing up later and sitting in the seats that are left. Considering the movies are $12 at the Solomon Pond Mall the fact that I have to make this choice pisses me off. Really, the only reason I went was to support a horror movie at a time when so few are even getting runs in theaters. Gone are the days when crowds would line up to see the latest horror flick we are now in the time of VOD and streaming and although that has made it possible for more smaller films to get exposure it seems to have put a large dent in the movie going audiences for the same type of film. So it was surprising to me to see national advertising dollars being spent on "It Follows". Being plugged as the "scariest movie of the year" it at least is getting some push and setting expectations through the commercials which always sets films up for failure. I was pleasantly surprised by the audience at the 4:30pm show I went to. It was a dozen or so adults, no chatty kids, no phone checkers just a bunch of grown ups.
The primary storyline is promising a young woman, Jay (Maike Monroe) after a few dates with a young man Hugh (Jake Weary) has sex with him in his car. The post sex behavior of the young man is less than to be desired knocking her out and tying her onto a wheelchair. Hugh tells her that he is being chased by a being that comes unrelentingly. He can get a respite from the stalking by passing the curse on to others through sexual interactions. He lets her see the being coming before releasing her. If the creature captures you it will kill you so staying ahead of it is the challenge. Hugh is creating a sex partner buffer zone by passing this curse onto Jay, one could assume he probably, or should have multiple partners that way increasing his chances at a longer life? How would that work, would Hugh give the curse to each new sex partner in order from most recent to least. Lets assume he had sex with Jay then Sharon then Michelle, would the creature go after Michelle, then Sharon and finally Jay before pursuing Hugh again? What if each of them had sex with three partners? Would the creature then go in order by time of the sex acts or would Michelle's 3 people be first then Sharon's 3 etc? What if there are multiple sex acts with multiple the same set of partners, could you confuse the monster? What constitutes a sex act in this case, seems like the movie is saying intercourse but what if you just had oral sex, does the monster still come after you? Instead of killing you it just smacks you hard in the face.
What also is as tired and old as going to the theater is the allegory of this film. Since the dawn of film casual sex has been punished in horror movies. Wrapping the message up in an allegory about STDs does little to change the fact that the message is worn. When you think about it, the lead is being punished for casual sex, something I encourage all young adults to engage in if they find it fulfilling. After this she is haunted by the act (diseased) and has to contemplate whether it is okay to continue this behavior with others knowing she will infect them too. Then in the end monogamy is the only answer the film gives us as a solution, tough message.
You could think Hugh a decent guy for telling Jay about the creature. She will have a fighting (running) chance, but really he is just increasing his chances of having a longer run without it coming after him again. Hugh could do a bit of self sacrifice and commit to two things, lots of plane flights and not passing this on to someone else, but no for him the buffer seems the route. The better Jay does at avoiding the creature the longer he can rest without pursuit. Jay has some help in that department with Sisters, Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and Kelly (Lili Sepe), unrequited love on his side Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and handsome next door neighbor Greg (Daniel Zovatto). Together these "Scoobies" will look out for Jay even through the thick and thin of the adventures to come.
  The creep factor of someone relentlessly coming after you is a great idea. An idea shown with better effect in the film The Dead (2010) where resting is no an option when the dead are coming and sense the living. Still this film does a nice job creating the atmosphere that poor Jay can get proper rest unless she herself creates a buffer. She tries not too but eventually is worn down to the point that she passes the curse on. Now the film does not show her doing this it just implies it and it does not let us know if she also passed on information about the curse to the recipients. Leaving us guessing about what kind of infected person she is, a responsible one or not. Well structured to have adults not be an option to turn too the film isolates the Scoobies and leaves them to problem solve on their own. Set in the suburbs of Detroit there are not a lot of options to earn money and make a run for it. The nature of the creature and some math could have made their lives easier. Timing the pace of the creature and determining how long it would take it to reach a place could have made for a manageable problem but the lack of financial resources doom this group. You can't run forever if you have no funds.
  Eventually the men in the group step up to be the buffer for Jay, and there is a nice piece of writing with the teen drama of choosing Greg over Paul. Poor Paul even when he finally gets his chance he with the girl of his dreams it means a lifetime of looking over his shoulder. His idea of hooking up with prostitutes is a cruel and mean solution, granted it looks like the prostitutes in the Detroit area are not real busy. Still the idea that he would pass the curse on to possibly hundreds of people is really an indication of his lack of moral backbone. (Sure in his position I would go on a prostitute binge with all my savings, and I would be asking for the hardest working busiest ladies on the corner. I am an asshole though.) I thought the nice kid would be better than me.
  Overall the film works if you do not think too much about the mechanics of it. Once you go down that road it unravels quickly. Purposely creating a out of time environment, with old TVs and lack of technology. I am sure the compact computer was in there just to make you scratch your head but overall the effect was okay. It works as presented and the characters are decently drawn and the situation presented in a way that most of their decisions can be justified. I liked that the actors in are close to the age they are playing in the movie.
 It adds a credibility to the story. So many times we see thirty somethings playing late teens and early twenties these actor seemed more of a match. The film does have some false advertising because the scares are few and far between. It may be the scariest film of the year but only because it is April and their have been so few horror films released. It seemed that Writer / Director David Robert Mitchell really pulled punches in this film. Many of the scares are the cheap kind like knowing the creature is outside and crawling up to the hole in the door to have a look. The music builds the we get close up and Boo!, that kind of scare. I did like the sense of dread the story structure created and wished that the moral choices the kids were making were either explored with a bit of exposition or shown in the horror of what they had to do. Jay, Greg and Paul all are implied to pass the curse on to others but never do we see the devastation of those decisions. In fact the one time we see the creature capture a victim it is quick cuts and then just shot of the dead face. Very disappointing to have such a good monster idea but have only the one kill. Considering how slow the film is as a whole you would hope to see more of what the monster can do towards the end of the movie. It is with reluctance that this film gets a recommendation I wanted more from it than it delivered but it does pass muster to a point. If I had it to do again I would probably have waited for VOD.

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