I found an allegory – The IT FOLLOWS review crusade
I don’t know what drew me to It Follows (2015), because it didn’t seem like my kind of movie at first, but upon second glance, it has everything I like in a movie. The movie has a good plot and this awesome retro vibe, backed up by this music straight from the 70s-80s. It didn’t take me long to find It Follows after my whine on this blog about it not coming to Video On-Demand anytime soon. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about that, because it was released in more theatres recently and I joined in with a packed house.
When I say packed house, I mean about a dozen rows in a cramped room at the back of an AMC. I had little choice about where to see the movie, because it was either at that particular AMC or downtown at the city independent movie theatre, which I’ve never gone to because it’s so dang far. This AMC in particular has always been progressive, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to make money. As such, Divergent (2015) and Cinderella (2015) got top billing in the hundred-seat rooms at the front, while It Follows was shoved to the back. And I mean the very back. The last room at the end of a long hallway.
I think my audience was confused with this movie. They thought it was a monster movie like Friday the 13th, when the monster and the threat were really allegories for relationships, growing old and sex. When it ended, people sat there in a stunned way. They expected the heroine to confront Freddy and kill him, sending him back to Hell, like they’ve been taught in every other movie. In this ending, The Shape is still there with the heroine at the end, as a representation of the anxiety in what comes next in her life.
In the case of teenagers, what comes next can be scary for them. Teenage sex is often treated like a secret, and becomes taboo, hidden away from parents and adults. The first time Jay she has sex is as a carefree and naive teenager, with an older guy she really doesn’t know all that well. She imagines how it will be beforehand and has sex with this dream guy she fits into a little fantasy of hers. It’s a fairly commonplace situation, but because of her choices, the anxiety crops up. The guy disappears. He’s not a dream guy, obviously. Her anxiety shoots up more, as she hides everything from her parents.
The second time she has sex is with a guy she knows a lot better, but her anxiety doesn’t improve. The guy doesn’t change much afterward and the movie does a good job making him out to be the one who really doesn’t trust Jay, or her story about The Monster. Jay keeps staring out her window at his house, wondering if The Monster is coming for him, which represents her anxiety for the future in the most obvious way. She looks at herself in the mirror in a worried way, as if contemplating age and why her relationships have failed.
The last time Jay has sex is with her close friend, Fred From Scooby-Doo. Fred is your classic “friend” to the hot-chick, who always hangs out with her, but is never really “with” her. He almost seems to take advantage of the scary situation to bang the hot-chick he’s dreamt of from childhood. I think Jay does honestly trust Fred From Scooby-Doo a lot more than those other two and she respects him. However, as we can see from the ending, the anxiety is still there, looming in the background of this relationship. It is not as obvious as in the other two sexual encounters and it could return almost instantly, but he’s willing to accept the danger and her, which is honorable. And he’s Fred From Scooby-Doo, so he’s a good guy.
Overall, I think this movie is awesome, but it might be too heavy-handed for a general audience, unlike last year’s horror allegory, The Babadook. At first, even I was confused by the allegorical ending and the multiple metaphors that crop up, so it took me a while to think this one over. It’s not just a monster movie, for which I’m thankful, and I think the director was inspired by the original Halloween. Also, this movie can be looked at and analyzed a number of ways, just like Halloween, so maybe my view is completely wrong or misdirected. However, I think there is an obvious connection between anxiety and age, which the characters bring out really well.
The highlight of the movie is the hilarious attempt by the teens to kill the monster in a Scooby-Doo trap, which I personally think didn’t work, as evidenced by the ending. Jay and Fred From Scooby-Doo look at each other with apprehension and wonder what’s next, which is every character’s anxiety in this movie. Will they be able to make it together?