Like the eldritch cry of a hunter’s moon, All Hallows Eve soon approaches, and with it, the Halloween tradition of watching horror films. As any disgruntled television provider would know, our millennial generation prefers the ease of Netflix rather than the now non-existent act of going to Blockbuster Video, or, gasp, spending money on a home video release.
Still, our urge for streaming media can sate our desire for a good scare. While my glance — and passing recommendation — fell upon The VVitch, for a go to horror experience on Netflix this year, it was hard to pass up a film possessing a treasured 97 per cent Tomatometer: 2014’s It Follows.
The perceived transgression of sex paired with some horrific menace has shared film history as long as one Mrs. Voorhees sought revenge in a little film called Friday the 13th. It Follows gained fame from giving that well trodden trope an original take.
After having sex during a date, Jamie (Maika Monroe) awakens bound to a wheelchair. Her date regretfully gives her a warning: after that night, she will be pursued by a supernatural entity that he “passed” to her by having sex. It can take the form of any person. It can only be seen by those “infected” by it. It simply walks slowly towards you. If it reaches you, it will kill you. The only way to stop it is to ‘pass’ it to another victim.
Congratulations, It Follows. You have successfully made random people walking slowly terrifying.
I’m a sucker for a good premise. Immediately, a hundred possibilities, tensions, and question are brought forward. How will she handle this? Will her friends believe her? How can she possibly survive this? How do you know where “it” is? Who is “it”? How long will “it” take to get where she is? Does she accept her fate? Will she pass this curse onto some other poor soul? How could this possibly end?
The premise of the movie does not let you down. Long, slow pans and lingering edits build the tension, especially when a figure in the background may well be a killer slowly disappearing from the frame. The decay of Detroit in the midst of autumn serve as a dour backdrop. Motifs of red, water and decay, and focusing on Jamie’s quirks of playing with grass and flowers colour our perspective.
The soundtrack is silent, save for when the tension builds. Electronic droning straight from an 80’s horror film intensify the encounters with “it.” The movie itself carries an ‘80s vibe that fans of Stranger Things, or the whole catalog of 8’0s horror greats, will appreciate. Though a strangely anachronistic handheld “shell computer” one character inexplicably possesses confuses when the movie is supposed to take place.
A good film lends itself to interpretation, which this has in spades. It Follows itself can refer to the creature following our main characters, as well as the notion of a horror film whose villain is essentially a supernatural STI, which is incredibly interesting. Just as zombies are a metaphorical manifestation of disease or “the mob,” “It” represents the very real lingering risk sex can hold. An overall theme amongst the autumn leaves is the constant dread and anxiety over one’s own impending mortality. At any moment a boogeyman could end their life: death is literally coming for them. And the sense of a loss of innocence, the nostalgic colouring of past events in the light of the morbid future, remains throughout the story.
Good horror doesn’t only scare, but it reveals the anxieties and fears of the people who created it, and allows us to face it. It Follows surely possesses this trait. Anyone who has yet to face this visage of horror this Halloween should give it a viewing. You may just get some compelling ideas alongside your crippling terror.