Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It Follows (2015)

After bringing it up in my last article, I decided it's time to talk about this movie....again. Yes, technically Cameron, Cody, and myself already did a sort of review of this, but I felt like it deserved a more in depth analysis. Isn't that cute? I used to avoid spoilers sometimes. Well, fuck that noise! This movie has been out for a while, it's had tons of buzz, and even I said it's one of the best horror films to come out in my lifetime.

That's a bold statement to make, right? I mean, look at all this "competition".

As I said yesterday, I feel that horror has really lost its way as a genre. It's littered with cheap shock and jumpscares rather than any sort of effort being put into making the audience feel tense through mood or atmosphere. Modern horror gave us a lot of shit that really makes me hurt as a fan, as I have seen how good horror can truly be. What we need is a film to truly remind audiences of how good a slow burn horror film can truly be. David Mitchell seemed to agree too, as it he gave us It Follows, a movie that makes its audience paranoid and uneasy from beginning to end. Let's get to it, shall we?

"Yes, let's hurry along before God gets irritated."
The films opens with a frightened girl running from her house out into the street. We don't know who she is, what's running from, or what led her to this point. All we know is that she's scared shitless. She waits a few minutes, her dad comes out to check on her, then she leaves in the car and decides to sit on the beach with the headlights aimed at her while tearfully talking to her father on the phone. It's clear by her words that she doesn't expect to see him again. Sure enough, the next morning we see broken corpse lying on the beach. This is all important because it sets some rules here. First, that the movie isn't going to immediately throw the killer at us, choosing instead to let us wonder. Second, no one else can see the killer bu the girl. How do I know this so early in the film? The clues are all there. Clearly, when we see her at her house, she was fleeing something. As we see her dad is awake, this means that he likely would have seen it, but he didn't. That's an important factor here. It doesn't save her from dying on  a beach, but you can't win them all.

Man, Disney Channel's Teen Beach 3 is looking a lot darker in tone than the first two.
Well, now that she's dead and we have no idea what killed her, let's move on to our actual main character, Jay. She's a college student living in Michigan with her mother and sister, Kelly. Throughout the film we get glimpses of a family photo which also includes their father, who seems to be dead. Rounding out the cast are Yara and Paul (their friends) and the cool guy across the street, Greg. Jay hangs out in her pool while some kids peep at her and she goes inside where we see something normally missing from modern horror films: characters who feel like real people. Yeah, it's rather refreshing to see this group of teenagers act like...a group of teenagers. What's that? You say there are tons of horror films with teenage characters? True, but do those movies involve them actually acting like teenagers? I mean, really, there was a lot more to my teen years than partying and fucking. I did those things, sure, but I did other things too.

Like that time I wore a kilt and showed off my amazing calves.
We also get some important character information, as it is made clear that Paul has feelings for Jay. Ah, to be awkward and young. Instead, I'm now awkward and old. Jay preps for her date with this guy she's been seeing named Hugh, who is apparently dreamy as all hell. She goes out and...didn't I see this guy get crushed by a tree in a zombie beaver movie? Yeah, I did! Well, there goes the answer as to whether her lives through this one. I guess he can survive a mysterious thing but he's no match for a tree.

You win this round, tree.
Anyway, she's out with him and they play a game where you pick a person out of a crowd who you'd like to switch places with, then the other person has to guess your choice. He makes his choice and she attempts to guess, but he stumps her. He points towards a young boy, saying that he envies him for having his whole life ahead of him. In the theater she has her turn and when he attempts to guess, something creepy happens. He looks around and thinks it's the woman near the door, but Jay claims there's no one there. Uh oh. Hugh wants to leave, because clearly some sketchy shit is afoot. You'd think that might ruin the date, but nope, they end up fucking in the back of his car and afterwards he gets her something to help her relax after a nice sex session.

Chloroform!
She comes to in a rather abandoned out of the way place, tied to a wheelchair as Hugh talks to her. He tells her that he isn't going to hurt her, just that he wants to explain what's happening to her and that he wants her to see the threat she now faces. He tells her that he passed something onto her and that the only way to keep it from coming after her is for her to do the same thing to someone else. It's a thing that is always moving, always coming, and it will never stop following until it gets you. It can also look like anyone but only the people who it is after can see it. Yes, Jay's dreamy new boyfriend just gave her an STDemon.

I sure hope the sex was good, because it will likely be the only positive experience coming out of all of this.
She sees a naked lady approaching her slowly, which is apparently the thing, and Hugh loads her into his car and drops her at home before getting the fuck out of there. Her friends run to her, as it appears she might've been raped, and the cops question her as she recounts it all to them. They find out that Hugh was living under an assumed identity and there is no sign of any creepy naked bloody women. At school, things get more unnerving for our heroine as she looks out the window and spots a old woman in a night gown walking towards her slowly. Yeah, I'm fairly certain that college campuses don't just have people in night gowns roaming around. That's a a fashion trend I doubt will be catching on anytime soon.

Then again, maybe she's a trend setter and we're getting a peek at the next big thing: granny gowns!
She freaks out and the whole "creepy old lady is following me and no one else can see her" thing and leaves, post-haste. Her friends agree to spend the night with her to help her be less freaked out, which seems to be a good idea. Strength in numbers, right? But remember, they can't see the thing. So after bonding some with Paul, when a window is broken and he goes to check it out, he sees nothing. She, on the other hand, sees what looks like a woman who was the victim of a vicious assault pissing all over herself. Damn STDemons and their invisible puddles of piss. That must be why my mom can smell piss when there seems to be none around. It's STDemon piss! It all adds up perfectly.

Just think of all the STDemon piss that is in public pools. The true smell of terror.
She books it upstairs and barricades her self in her room. Her friends plead for her to open up and let here in, but Jay's a bit too nervous about the prospect of a golden shower. She does relent though, letting them in before closing it again. After talking about what she saw, Yara comes knocking too and when she's let in we see one of the most pants-shittingly terrifying things ever.

A CUTE NERDY GIRL! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!
No, Yara isn't really what's scary. That actually horrifying thing is the lumbering tall man that comes tromping from behind her, which is a scene that still freaks me out every time I see it. I'm pretty tall and this guy makes me feel short and next to these clearly much smaller actors, he looks gargantuan. Jay leaves via the window with a quickness that catches everyone off guard and they all find her at a playground where the neighbor, Greg, also shows up to see what's up. The situation is laid out for him and, while he is clearly skeptical, he offers to help anyway as they get in his car and go hunting for Hugh to see what's up with this whole STDemon thing.

Few road trips are as awkward as the ones that involve hunting down the guy who gave you an invisible demon.
They find the place her was living, a run-down house, and we get a weird scene with Greg checking out Yara's ass, which you'd assume would be leading towards something with them. It doesn't though. They find a clue that leads to Hugh's school where they find out his real name is Jeff and they visit him at his actual home where he tells them a more extended version of what he told Jay. This scene itself is great, as we seen how paranoid Jeff is when a person walks towards them and he asks them all if they can see them. It really drives home that he's desperate and fearful to the point where he felt the only way to protect himself was to pass it on.

But we all know there's no true escape for him. The tree saw to that.
The group leaves Jeff and goes to a place Greg's family owns next to a beach and they try to relax. But there's no relaxing when you're being stalked by a creature that never stops moving. And this here? This is literally my favourite scene in the entire film. We see them relaxing on the beach as Yara approaches from the direction of the house behind them. Then we pan over to their view as we see Yara is in the water...uh oh, that's not good. Yes, the Yara behind them is the STDemon and this is where three members of the group immediately become true believers as it grabs Jay's hair, throws Paul after he hits the invisible menace with a chair, and then it kicks a hole in the door of the shed they run to hide in after Jay shoots it in the neck. This is also important, as it shows the creature can survive a neck wound that would likely kill a person.

It can also turn into a white version of the kid from Ju-on too, apparently. No meowing included though, sadly.
Greg doesn't witness all of this thought and just thinks Jay may be going a little off her rocker. She runs off in the car to flee the creature, ultimately crashing and waking up in a hospital bed where the others are watching over her. Wanting to have someone else see it, she's able to convince Greg to fuck her in the hospital bed, which visibly bothers Paul. Now with her arm in a cast, Jay returns home with the others and they wait for any sign of the creature. While he purports to not really be sure if he believes, we do observe that Greg himself seems uneasy. It's even clear he is keeping an eye out for something while hanging out with girls, but when he talks to the others about Jay he's resistant to admitting any belief. Later than evening, Jay observes Greg walking down the street in long underwear, which is fairly strange. Then she also notices him beating on his front door before finally breaking the window and it's plainly clear that Greg is about to kill himself. Oh wait, scratch that, as when Jay runs over to try and save him, the creature has now turns into his mom. And her tit is hanging out. Also she rapes him to death.

As far as deaths go, being raped to death by something that looks like your mom is pretty nasty.
Jay immediately takes off after seeing the death rape and heads back out towards the beach area where she falls asleep on the hood of the car, waking up the next morning and wandering out onto the beach where she sees a boat with guys partying on it. She begins to disrobe and the next time we see her, she's wet and heading back to her friends. I guess the implication is that Jay just participated in her first gangbang and now the boat guys are pretty much fucked. To death. Because the STDemon is going to fuck them to death. We don't see it happen, much like the implied group sex, but yeah. Sucks for them. Paul asks Jay why she didn't choose him to carry the burden with her rather than Greg, which she explains might be weird and a strain on their friendship. Her and Greg had fucked previously, so she didn't feel like it was a big deal doing it with him again. Paul is adamant about wanting to help though, so he comes up with a plan.

It involves appliances, but no brave little toasters.
The idea is to lure the thing to public pool where they will then get it in the water and electrocute it. It's not the worst idea, but even I know that won't work, as the whole "plugged blow-dryer in the tub" thing doesn't actually work as a death method. It just ruins the blow-dryer. When the creature does show up, it's immediately a huge mindfuck for our heroine though, as we plainly see that it has taken the form of her dead father. It also doesn't want to go swimming, so it begins picking up the appliances and tossing them at her while she sits rather helplessly in the pool trying to point it out so Paul can try to hurt it with the gun. Yara gets shot and Kelly throws a sheet on the thing, allowing Paul to finally shoot it, resulting in it falling into the pool. But it isn't dead, as it grabs Jay and holds her underwater while Paul shoots blindly at it. He gets lucky though, as one shot ends up cleanly in its head and the thing stops moving, releasing Jay. As she looks into the pool, all she sees is blood slowly filling the water.

Which clearly means CGI piranhas are going to show up and eat a lot of people.
The movie comes to its close as we see Paul and Jay finally sleep together and walk together, hand in hand, as someone slowly approaches in the background, leaving you to wonder it is simply a bystander or something far more sinister. Personally, after seeing how slowly it moved previously, I honestly think the person approaching behind them is walking too fast. That's not me being optimistic about their survival, that's just me pointing out an observation.

Besides, that person does not look at all like they're on their way to kill young lovers. They look more like they're on their way to McDonalds.
Let's be real clear here, this movie does have some problems. The ending confrontation being the main one, as it doesn't feel quite as satisfying after the big build-up. But when I really think about it, I don't know what else would have happened instead. Perhaps it's not really meant to end how we perceive it should. This is, after all, a movie that plays with your expectations at every turn. It downplays gore, builds a steady pulsing tension that lingers throughout, and actually introduces us to characters who we care about. I liked that Paul and Jay stood together at the end. I enjoyed seeing the "cool guy" not being a complete douche as he offered help. I was happy to see Yara healing in the hospital, handling her gunshot wound like a champ.

Although I'm not sure egg salad was the way to go. Hospital egg salad might keep you in the hospital longer.
This movie, despite having a confrontation that didn't live up to what many of us had built up in our heads, is a damn fine piece of cinema. It never holds back on the creepiness through, leaving me so tense that my back ached. There is no clear sign that these characters will survive as the story goes on, but it never treats any of them like they're simply there to be killed off either. They're all interesting characters with motivations and personalities brought to life by a great cast of young actors. There was only one real jumpscare in the entire film. One. And it was a fucking ball hitting a window. At least that makes more sense to startle you than a damn Pop-Tart ejecting from a toaster. In closing, all I can really say is that you should go watch this movie. It's an amazing work of suspense and horror that deserves all the attention and hype it got. So, until balls become sentient and overrun the Earth to show us what true fear is, I'll be here wondering if the public pool in that town is just going to be full of blood forever now. Like, seriously, will there just be invisible blood all over the place? I don't know. Later days, bleeders.

BAAAAALLLLLLLLL!!

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