#30: It Follows
*The giveaway is now closed* By now you've realized that I like a slow build. A crawl even. This one walks with conviction.
And the most terrible agony may not be in the wounds themselves but in knowing for certain that within an hour, then within ten minutes, then within half a minute, now at this very instant - your soul will leave your body and you will no longer be a person, and that this is certain. The worst thing is that it is certain.
The monster in It Follows moves only slightly faster than my favorite Night of the Living Dead zombies, yet it's not so easily definable as either dead, zombie, person, ghost, or monster, even. There is some entity following Jay, but a label is not necessary to make whatever it is frightening. The threat is certain. That's all a good horror movie needs.
It would be easiest to speak about this film in terms of its "rules," which poke a healthy bit of fun at the sex-having, misbehaving adolescents of teen horror movies past - whatever it is, it passes from person to person like an STD. In an era where two-thirds of the world's population under 50 has the herpes virus, that seems prescient.
But what makes It Follows a great horror film is what it illustrates with that Dostoevsky quote: "The worst thing is that it is certain."
If you've spent these past 30 days of horror evaluating what it takes for you to find something scary, then you must have a pretty good idea of what that is by now. Perhaps it's vampires, body horror, surgical gore, monstrous transformations, giant old houses, or omnipresent ghosts. They're all seemingly very different, ranging from the purely psychological to the awfully visceral. But, if you boil each of those things down to their basic building blocks, I bet you'll find they all have one thing in common: The threat. The threat of a creature that bites. The threat of a terrible idea coming to pass. The threat of the man in the mask creeping up behind you, always looking through the curtains, over your shoulder, to make sure he isn't watching.
The actual violence, the actual scare, is not in the moment of release - when the knife goes in - but in everything that builds up to that moment.
The slow walk of those figures following Jay is demonstrative of that very concept. Some are more visually demented than others: covered in blood, naked, oddly proportioned, brutalized. Some are so normal they are indistinguishable from people she knows. But they walk regardless - and that alone makes them terrifying. Their unrelenting, purposeful walk.
A tall man walks through a doorway. Honestly, that's all it takes. I'm not going to spoil it for you.
Other Things to Notice:
It Follows reminds me very much of a John Hughes movie, if he had ever ventured into horror. This is largely due to Mitchell's focus on the teenagers (there's no adult in the main cast - a mom and a teacher have a few lines in the background), and probably the electro-pop of the soundtrack (which is also rather Suspiria-esque, too). Like his previous film, The Myth of the American Sleepover, Mitchell demonstrates a gift for presenting teenagers not as caricatures or archetypes, but like real human beings. The cast is the age they're playing. They speak with a naturalism that makes them both believable and relatable. They don't feel so much like characters, as they feel like memories of who you were when you were 18 years old.
Lending to this effect, the time period is totally ambiguous - the fashions aren't definable by decade, televisions are older models, stacked on top of even older models, and Jay's friend Yara is never without her bizarre, clam-shaped e-reader. Does it occur to anyone else that this thing looks like a pack of birth control pills? Just me? I don't think there's anything to this beyond giving the film a timelessness that the best horror has. Be it a Universal monster movie or Carpenter's Halloween, you aren't overwhelmed by pop-culture references, but instead focused on the story, the characters, and the point.
David Robert Mitchell is a fellow FSU Film School alum, and we met briefly back in 2011 when he was visiting with Myth of the American Sleepover. I'm pretty thrilled that one of the best horror movies of the year stems from my alma mater, but it truly has little to do with it. It's simply a good movie. It's artful, intentional, and strange. And you know what? I can't think of a better way to bring the First Annual One Critical Bitch HorrorThon to an end, than by giving you a copy to watch in the comfort of your own home.
31 Days of Horror GIVEAWAY*:
NOW (10/30/15) through November 1st, 2015 at midnight EST., you can ENTER TO WIN a copy of It Follows on DVD - all you have to do is answer one simple question:
What's your favorite scary movie?
Leave your answer here in the comments, then sign in through the Rafflecopter giveaway and check "I commented!" You'll also have options to visit my Facebook and Twitter accounts for extra entries, but these are not mandatory.
*And we have a WINNER! David Hollingsworth is taking home It Follows on DVD. CONGRATS! And to EVERYONE who commented and followed the HorrorThon this year, THANK YOU - keep reading, keep watching!*
There's only one movie left on the list, and I want to go out with some Halloween fun ;-) Let's do this thing.
*This giveaway is now closed*
Giveaway terms and conditions:
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER. Giveaway begins on 10/30/2015 and ends 11/1/2015 at 11:59pm EST. Open to U.S. residents ONLY. Entrants must be 18 years of age or older. Winner will receive the film “It Follows” on DVD, approximate retail value of $26.98 USD. The number of eligible entities received determines the odds of winning. Winner will be selected at random via rafflecopter.com on 11/2/2015 and notified by email. Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery via USPS. To enter login via the Rafflecopter link and leave your comment or email address in the comments of this post - you may choose to participate in the other options presented, but they are not required. My opinions are my own and not influenced by any type of compensation. Facebook, Twitter and the makers and distributors of “It Follows” are in no way associated with this giveaway. By providing your information in this form, you are providing your information to me and me alone. Your information is not sold or shared in any way, and I will only use this information to contact the winner. As owner and editor of onecriticalbitch.com and operator of this giveaway, I have the right to obtain and publicize the winner’s name and likeness. If the prize is forfeited or unclaimed, I reserve the right to reclaim the merchandise for my own use. Winner and recipient of the prize is responsible for any and all taxes related to its value. VOID where prohibited by law.