It Follows

I know I’m a little late coming to this party but I don’t see many horror movies in the theater because no one I know will go with me and there’s something supremely creepy about a grown man watching a horror movie by himself in the theater. Since I am so late on this, everyone has already spoken to how good this movie is. All I can do is agree and talk about something other than its quality.

Spoilers Follow.

What I will talk about is how eerily similar the experience was to the first time I saw Halloween (yes, way back when it first came out). From the opening shot of a 1970’s suburban lane, to the tracking shots with the steadycam, to the long, slow push ins and the very Carpenteresque score, I kept flashing back to that fateful night when horror movies went from Vincent Price to Slasher Film.

The other thing that struck me was the general inability to pick out which time period it was supposed to be taking place in. The opening is obviously modern day as the soon-to-be-victimized girl has a modern car and a cell phone but once we cut to Jay’s character lazing in the pool, it appears to be the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. The televisions are all old, tube models. No one seems to a have a cell phone and the cars are all rolling Detroit iron from the station wagon era.

The only reason I noticed was because Jay is wearing a decidedly 70’s bathing suit in the pool and then later on her date, granny panties. After that, I started looking for details to lock in the time period, thinking maybe it switched to the 70’s when we cut from the beach to the gutter to the pool.

At this point, I think the whole thing takes place in modern day and the 1970’s touches are just more of the homage to John Carpenter’s masterpiece. It’s an effective homage, one that kept give me PTSD flashbacks to my first time seeing Halloween.

I get the criticisms that the It that Follows doesn’t follow its own rules, but I couldn’t care less, frankly. Far too many horror films these days waste time on their precious mythology, as if adding in a Babylonian layer of demons will serve as some kind of extra bona fides. This one gets right to the freaky and stays there the whole time. It also comes to a satisfyingly vague conclusion. Is there anything worse than a horror movie that ends with the monster dead and all strings neatly tied? By definition, that’s not a horror movie. It’s an adventure movie. It’s the difference between Alien and Aliens.

It’s always been my feeling that you should leave the theater with a vaguely disquieted feeling, like you were infected with something that may be hard to get rid of. The best movie in this regard was 2002’s The Ring. You got a sincere feeling of subliminal relief when seven days passed after you saw that movie and hadn’t been visited by Samara.

Also, see The Omen and The Exorcist for horror movies that don’t end so much as take a breather. Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original) didn’t restore order, either. She just got away. Those maniacs are still there, haunting that clutch of old houses just outside of Austin. The BBQ’s good, though.

All too often, horror movies devolve into cheap puzzle boxes that boil down to, “If we just get the thing from the thing and put it back in the thing, the evil spirit will be destroyed.” Again, that’s an adventure movie, not a horror movie.

It Follows is a horror movie. A classic in the making right up there with Let The Right One In/Let Me In.

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