Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dude, I Have Questions About It Follows

I never would have guessed that I’d see a movie I could compare just as easily to The Virgin Suicides as I could to Halloween. But It Follows is that movie, and I was lucky enough to catch it in one of the four theaters screening it during its first weekend of limited release.

If you haven’t watched it yet, move to a better city and then go see it. Sate yourself with the trailer and then move on.

If you have seen It Follows, however, hit the jump and then see what pops out at you, so to speak.

Dude, It Follows made me feel weird.

Not that it kept me from sleeping and not that it made me suspicious of every passing stranger, but it made me keenly aware of where I was standing and what was around me. That’s a very specific effect that I’m not sure a horror film has ever had on me before — creeping unease in a location that should seem familiar and safe. Oh, it also made me notice that the colors in my life could use a +5 or +10 saturation bump. And no, that’s not a metaphor.

Dude, it was like a Fear Street novel, right?

That was one of my take-aways. But I mean that in the best possible sense: This was teen angst literalized in a very effective way. And this scene in particular reminded me of a Fear Street cover, though I couldn’t say which.

Dude, what was with all the water?

Right? I haven’t seen a horror movie with this much stylized depiction of water since The Ring. Water appeared in so many scenes  that I feel like the director had to be doing it intentionally. The first victim dies by the water, and then there’s the beach house, the swimming pools, the rain, water faucets, the fact that the when Jay first encounters the thing in her home, it’s urinating. Even Jay’s bedroom is the same cyan color we see in the gymnasium pool. My only guess is as to what it could mean is that water is usually innocuous but can also be this unstoppable element. When it wants to go somewhere, it does — just like the thing.

Dude, did the thing first appear as Hugh’s mom?

Jay seems taken aback when she knock’s on Hugh’s door and his mother answers. I don’t know if this was just because she realized that the asshole who sex-cursed her also happens to be a normal person with a nice mom or if she recognized her specifically because the thing looked like Hugh’s mom — totally nude — when it approached Jay and Hugh in the ruined industrial area. As Hugh explained, sometimes it looks like people you know just to fuck with you.

Dude, does it appear as anyone else we see in non-thing form?

Well, there’s Greg’s mom and there’s Jay and Kelly’s dad, but those are spelled out a little more explicitly. Also, it was pointed out to me that the little boy version of the thing might have been one of the neighborhood boys who were peeping at Jay in the pool.

Dude, would two cursed people see the thing the same way?

That’s a good question.

Dude, why does the thing usually wear white?

I suppose it makes it easier for the viewer to spot, even if the victims themselves don’t seem to pick up on the fact that the their stalker has a chosen color scheme. But it’s not always wearing white, right? It’s completely nude sometimes, and the urinating woman Jay meets in her living room isn’t wearing white. I have no idea why, because it seems like a break in a rule that’s otherwise followed. The color scheme could be a set up for the final scene, I suppose.

Dude, what was up in the final scene?

I think t’s completely up to the viewer to surmise whether the kids beat the thing or whether they’re still being followed. Yeah, there’s someone wearing white and walking behind them, but both Jay and Paul are wearing white too, as if to remind you that no, the thing isn’t the only person who gets to wear white in this universe.

Dude, isn’t it a boneheaded strategy to show up at the beach as Yara, the girl with the glasses? I mean, she is right there with her friends. Wouldn’t Jay instantly recognize this second, non-speaking Yara as the thing?

Well, yeah.

Dude, the girl with the glasses is named Yara?

As in Greyjoy, yeah. I guess there can be two pop culture Yaras. Why shouldn’t there be?

Dude, did Jay have sex with those guys on the boat? Did Paul pick up a prostitute?

I’ve got no idea what happened nor how it would have impacted their sex curse. If Jay passed it on to any of the guys on the boat, wouldn’t it have just been the first guy? Also, what kind of sex would constitute enough to transfer the curse? Did she even give the curse to Paul then? Did he hire a prostitute for no reason?

Dude, does the thing sex people to death or what?

When the thing attacks Greg, it’s not actually naked. But there’s definitely something sexual happening there. It’s odd how he didn’t apparently get death pretzeled like the girl in the opening scene did.

Dude, does Jay not have any friends her own age?

It is odd, isn’t it, that her core group seems to be Kelly, her high school-aged sister, and Kelly’s two friends. One reasonable theory: Prettiest Girl in School syndrome, in which a perfectly nice girl who happens to be beautiful ends up a loner just because her appearance makes people treat her as either a threat or a potential conquest.

Dude, what poem is Jay’s class reading?

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

Dude, why is the thing so angry?

I hope I never find out. With The Ring, it’s interesting to know that Samara is vengeful, not just outright evil. But It Follows is a good example of why it’s scarier when you don’t know the rules, when there maybe are no rules.

In interviews, Robert David Mitchell has shied away from saying this film is a metaphor for AIDS or sexually transmitted disease in general. What the hell is this movie about, then?

If that’s not the exact subtext he had in mind, my wildest guess is that It Follows could be about the way we look at sex — particularly how women have sex. Maybe the “it” that follows you wherever you go is a reputation? Or rumor? Or scandal? Maybe Jay is being punished for being a sexually active young woman. Her family lacks a father, and we’re not told why, and she, her sister and her mother at least seem to be flaunting societal mores enough that they’ve earned the scorn of Greg’s mom. When the ambulance shows up, she declares “They’re a mess” or something to that effect. And Jay’s “marked” status eventually imperils everyone else around her, as if her reputation is contagious.

Dude, Jay looks like a young Gwen Stefani, right?

A lot of the time, yeah. Maika Monroe just has one of those faces. I saw Stefani, young Christine Taylor, Cerie from 30 Rock, and Hilary Duff — or at least Hilary Duff’s bangs. It’s like a Rorschach test of pop cultural literacy.

Dude, how special do you feel for getting to see this awesomely good movie that’s next to impossible to see in most of the U.S.?

Very. #keepsake

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