Movie Review: "It Follows"
Jay Height (Maika Monroe) is a young woman who is in the very early stages of a romantic relationship with a guy named Hugh (Jake Weary). They go out on a date, he drives them to somewhere quiet and they have sex in his car. Everything is going well until he puts a rag over her mouth and she passes out. She wakes up to find herself tied to a wheelchair that is being pushed by Hugh, and he is telling her about a curse that he passed along to her.
When you get the curse, there is a mysterious monster that will be coming after you and trying to kill you. It can take the form of anyone. It could be someone you know, or someone you do not, but it will be walking straight for you. It cannot be killed, only passed along through sex. If it kills someone, it moves back to the previous person who had the curse.
Hugh tells her all of this hoping that she would pass it along to someone else and move the curse along. He knew Jay would be skeptical of all of this, so the two wait until they see the monster (having taken the form of a girl). It is walking straight for Jay, which forces her into believing. Now Jay must find a way to survive while struggling to decide if she would be willing to pass the curse along to another person. Luckily, Jay will not have to go through this alone because she has the help of her sister and her friends.
The Pros & Cons
The Monster (+5pts)
Character Development (-5pts)
Hot Potato (+4pts)
Maika Monroe (+3pts)
Dumb Teens (-3pts)
Pro: The Monster (+5pts)
This was a very interesting concept for a monster. We never see what the thing really looks like, but it's so interesting because it can take the form of any person. It could look like someone you know and care about, or it could look like a complete stranger. It does not matter what it looks like because, no matter where you are in the world, it is somewhere, walking straight toward you.
I thought this was very fascinating, because the thing can haunt you in public. In most horror movies, characters are safe during the day. Monsters usually only come out at night. With this monster, it can hide in plain sight. It hides in crowds and in public and it can get you without you even knowing it was there. I thought this was a unique monster, that had the potential to terrify people psychologically.
Con: Character Development (-5pts)
These were severely underdeveloped characters. The main character got a little bit of development but that was it. For the most part, these are a bunch of nameless and faceless teens. The main character seems to care about the other characters, but that is not enough to make the audience care about them. Most of these characters felt like red shirts (Star Trek reference), meaning that I thought the characters were only in here as nameless bodies for the monster to kill. Now I would understand this if the film focused on properly developing other elements of the story.
The lack of character development was a shame because it makes the audience not care about the characters and the film spent so much time watching these teenagers sitting, talking, and waiting. During these scenes, they hardly speak to each other. They mostly stare at each other with an ominous soundtrack playing in the background. The filmmakers could have very easily used this time to further develop these characters, but they did not which made it feel like lazy writing.
Pro: Hot Potato (+4pts)
I enjoyed the concept of the monster in this film but I also enjoyed the way one gets rid of the monster. You cannot escape it. All you can do is delay it or pass it along to someone else. If you pass it on to someone else and it kills that person, it will start coming after you again. How can you pass it along to someone else? You have to have sex with someone.
I thought this was a bit silly, but it was still interesting. The method in which one passes it along is a crazy, but when you think about it, it is kind of genius for a horror film. Let's say you fear this monster (which you should) and it is coming after you. You then have to be intimate with someone to pass it along, but you do not want to pass it along to someone you care about. So you would have to be physically with someone you do not like (which could be terrifying in and of itself). Well let's say you do that. Then what? How do you know whether or not the person you passed it along to is killed? So even after you pass it along, it can come back to you.
It could be days, weeks, months, years or never. So if you get through passing it along once, then see someone walking in your direction, you will have to try to pass it along again just to be safe. This is just one example of the psychological horror that this monster could cause. Point is that this is a silly premise, on the surface, but when you dig into it, it has the potential to be truly terrifying. It is basically a twisted, teen-romance version of hot potato.
Con: Shallow (-5pts)
I really enjoyed the monster and the way it is transmitted, but I thought the film never really dug deep into the psychological fear that this could cause. If someone is walking towards the main character in this movie, it is always the monster. This film really did a poor job of exploring the fear and paranoia that could come along with this monster. If someone is living with that kind of fear and paranoia, they may eventually be begging for the monster to find them. There is so much to explore with this concept, and the film did not go for it.
Similarly, the way that this curse is transmitted also had the potential for a ton of psychological terror through a wide variety of circumstances. The film never plays with the difference between a girl trying to pass it along versus a boy trying to pass it along. The film never explores the struggle of wanting to pass it along, but having to be intimate with someone you do not like. Again, there is a ton of psychological terror to explore with this concept, but the film played it safe and ended up feeling extremely shallow.
Pro: Maika Monroe (+3pts)
Having seen that this was mostly a young cast and that the lead actress was fairly unknown, I was not expecting much from the performances in this film. I was pleasantly surprised to see Maika Monroe and what she was able to do in this film. Like I have mentioned before, the character development in this film is almost non-existent but Maika Monroe brings a lot of life and emotion into this character. She makes a poorly developed character feel relatable through her performance and the film was certainly better for it. So much of this film relies on her reactions to the monster that is following her. Maika Monroe is a very young actress but she was able to carry most of this film with her performance. This was fun to watch and I look forward to seeing what she does in the future.
Con: Dumb Teens (-3pts)
These teens make some pretty bad decisions throughout this movie. I am going to be vague here and only explain examples that do not give anything away. Anyway, there is a scene where the monster gets inside a house and what does the character do? Run upstairs of course. Yes run upstairs where there is nowhere else to go, because why would you simply run out the front door? I guess that would make too much sense.
There is also a scene in which a character (who does not have the curse) has a gun, and tries to shoot the monster based on the main character's instruction. Surprise, surprise, the character misses (because he cannot see the monster) and ends up shooting someone else. Again these are just a couple of examples, but know that this film falls into the same issue that so many horror films fall into. It's characters make dumb decisions that seem to move the plot along in the filmmakers' desired direction.
Grade: C- (74pts)
I thought It Follows had a fantastic premise. The monster is very unique and the way it is passed along from person to person was very interesting. The monster could be anyone, anywhere. It is also passed along through sex. Both of these concepts have the potential for very compelling psychological terror. Unfortunately, the film never digs deep enough into either of these concepts. It is a very interesting premise that the filmmakers never explore.
The characters in this film are pretty poorly written, but luckily Maika Monroe is able to captivate the audience throughout the film's duration. She does a great job at visually reacting to the horror in this film. Even though the filmmakers do a terrible job at exploring the depths of the film's concepts, Maika Monroe is able to make the film feel like it has depth. Unfortunately when you inspect the film's elements, it is clear that the film really does not live up to it's potential.
Ultimately, I thought this was a pretty average film that had very high potential. The concepts in this movie deserve to explored much deeper than they were in this film, so I really hope this film gets a sequel. There is so much psychological terror that can be explored using these concepts, but this film just does not go for it. This film could have been amazing, but failed to live up to it's potential.