When I watched It Follows the other night and talked about it on twitter I stated that It Follows was “uncomfortable” but that I couldn’t decide if that discomfort was good or bad. Still haven’t decided on that matter. Its a beautiful movie, excellently shot with an effective score that clearly shows the love and inspiration it draws from greats like George Romero and especially John Carpenter. However it’s got this story… this odd story… and while it IS a beautiful film there is some question over why it decides to show some of the things it does. I will try to avoid spoilers.
It Follows is about this beautiful young woman named Jay (Maika Monroe). She goes on a date with this nice young fellow Hugh (middle initial G. Last name Rection). They have sex in his car after which he drugs her and ties her to wheelchair (in her panties – wonderful visual aesthetic there) and explains what’s going to happen. Hugh sees some sort of entity – a ghost – that was going to kill him but now that he’s had sex with Jay this entity will follow and try to kill her. She can stop that by having sex with someone else and passing that entity on to them. What gets aggravating is that this girl has a very simple decision – have sex with someone or get killed by the ghost-thing – and she struggles to make this decision. Sex is enjoyable but getting killed is not, shouldn’t be that hard of a decision in my opinion.
It’s a strange concept – this idea of a sexually transmitted haunting. This following entity, this “it’ has led to several different interpretations and looking at what symbolism “it” may bear. Of course there is the fact that it could be a parable on HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, the social perceptions thereof and the sexual revolution. as well as primal anxieties about intimacy.
But why listen to critcs analyze what they think the movie is about and jump right to the artist’s intent. Director David Robert Mitchell has said of this sexually transmitted “it”: “[Jay] opens herself up to danger through sex, sex is the only way in which she can free herself from that danger… We’re all here for a limited amount of time, and we can’t escape our mortality… but love and sex are two ways in which we can – at least temporarily – push death away.” Okay, I get that, using a horror film to explore both the risks of sex as well as the vital part sex plays in our emotional development and well-being. It also fits with the other things this director has done, he seems to have a desire to explore sexual themes with young adults if you look at his previous films – a short called Virgin and a 2010 coming-of-age drama called The Myth of the American Sleepover. Teenage romance, yearning and sexuality are played throughout his work… and speaking of sleepovers EVERY single night scene in this movie is a sleepover. NONE of these characters spends a night in their own bed it would seem – all the sleepovers and there’s no myth about that.
THE BEAUTY OF PANTIES AND SKIN
There’s a lot of different panties in It Follows and it would seem that director David Robert Mitchell loves these undergarments as much as I do. Let’s take a moment to examine the different panties on display here in It Follows.
This silk number looks like pajama bottoms but really, its panties. Beautiful silk, clings to the body and shows a nice figure without revealing too much skin. Being silk one doesn’t not wear panties underneath these. To place a barrier of cotton between your skin and silk would defeat the whole reason of wearing silk.
This is Jay in her “going out” matching panties and bra a lovely pink style, the panties being more of a conservative jockey cut as opposed to the more revealing (and downright skankier) bikini cut so commonly found in this variety of panty.
Your standard white cotton briefs and bra. Now what’s odd about this scene and this moment is that it’s the next morning after her encounter with Hugh. It was consensual sex, it was enjoyable, it just ended in a nightmare with this revelation of sexually transmitted ghosts and then some dead naked woman chasing her around. Why is she looking there? What does she expect to find? She wasn’t a virgin before that encounter, she knows what it looks like down there… what makes what’s in those panties so much different now that a ghost is after her?
The point I’m starting to make here is that there is a ton of female flesh on display in It Follows and it often becomes uncomfortable. Being that this is a horror film you do want the audience to feel uncomfortable – the more discomfort they feel the more effective the scares become. This is why you see the set design in many horror films avoid right angles to create discomfort by not giving your eye any place to settle on, or things are deliberately out of place in rooms, subtle things that throw off the viewer’s perceptions of reality and create discomfort. All these girls, and beautiful girls at that, in revealing outfits, all these young adults exploring sexuality – these are not comfortable topics, this is not a comfortable movie to watch – and that discomfort, as shitty as it feels sometimes, HELPS the movie, makes it FEEL like something.
Like look at all these legs.
Like a goddamn ZZ Top music video with these nice bare legs. It’s UNCOMFORTABLE, you don’t want to pay attention to it, it somehow feels wrong, but you do, you find yourself staring at this, the beauty of the human form and then BAM! A ghost catches you when you’re unaware. And I don’t mean jump scares. It Follows offers up a refreshingly different kind of horror.