Horror season is nigh, and along with my steady diet of rom-coms, I’ve started watching more scary movies.
This week I viewed IT FOLLOWS, which is a cross between THE RING and a bad afterschool special: A girl, Jay (Maika Monroe), finds herself being followed by a shape-shifting monster after having sex. If she wants to lose the monster, she’s got to have sex and pass it on–and hope that person doesn’t die. To make matters worse (better?), she’s surrounded by a closeknit group of her sister, friends, and neighbors, and there’s sexual tension between various members of the group.
Six thoughts I had while watching the film:
1. This movie is terrifying all the more because it feels so real. It’s set in the suburbs, with lawns and people I recognized–not slick characters or quirky types. This street could’ve been the one I grew up on. I could’ve known that guy.
2. The sex in the film is very real, too. It’s not glamorous or particularly titillating. It feels authentic, and there’s a strong sense of seriousness about the act, owning to how it’s functioning in the movie as a defensive maneuver for Jay and others: it’s something you do to make the boogie man go away.
3. The sexually-transmitted monster can transform into any body: an old lady limping toward you, a naked man standing on your rooftop, your best friend. It can disturb in its alienness as much as it disturbs in its familiarity. It can represent different things.
4. The creature is also only seen by its victims. Jay can see it, and so can Hugh, the boy who gave her the monster. But to the rest of the world it’s invisible. This adds a twist of madness to the terror of the victim. Is there really no one there? What if no one believes them?
5. It many ways, this story is the ultimate anti-romance: two people get together, and A Bad Thing Happens. Keep having sex, and the badness spreads. Sex is dangerous. It causes you fear, pain–even death. But you can’t stop.
6. Jay’s friend Paul (Keir Gilchrist) has a crush on her throughout the movie. At times I thought of him as alternately pathetic and brave, because even when he fully believed she had a sexually-transmitted monster, he still wanted to have sex with her. Or maybe he just didn’t want her to have sex with anyone else? Paul’s intentions and arc, and the way Jay responded to him, was one of the biggest surprises of this film.