In possibly the most unsettling and unique film of its generation, ‘It Follows’ tells the story of a handful of teenagers who attempt to escape the clutches of an unknown, invisible presence that is hell-bent on killing them one by one. It doesn’t run. It doesn’t hunt. It doesn’t chase. It follows.
If you’re thinking that’s probably one of the most vague descriptions I’ve given of a plot then you’re probably right, but oddly enough, this movie doesn’t require much more to be suspenseful. From the opening scene, we are immediately thrown off by an impossibly disorienting timeless setting, wherein it’s not only difficult to get a foothold on what decade the movie is supposedly taking place, but also where ‘it’ originated. The cars in the film range from 1970’s to early 1990’s, but the clothing of the characters resemble that of the 1980’s, with the exception of one young girl who has what seems to be an e-reader that looks like a make-up case, so who knows? I never thought the concept of a setting existing outside of a normal timeline would work for a non-science fiction horror movie, but the impossibility to get a grasp on reality really works for this film. In fact, most might not immediately recognize this until someone asks, “Hey, when is this supposed to be taking place?”
Speaking of the unknown, it is never revealed in the film just where ‘it’ came from or why ‘it’ is killing people, or even what ‘it’ is, but I have my theories. We learn early on that the target that ‘it’ follows and kills can be changed by the original target having sex with someone. I know, that might seem incredibly stupid at first, but hear me out. When the new target is eventually captured and killed, ‘it’ reverts back to its original target and continues following. This appears to be a path that is not by choice by this being, more like it’s compelled to follow a trail. It’s like the world’s worst STD that always kills the most recent sexual partner before finally killing the original host – which brings me to my theory. The idea that these kids always try to sleep with someone in an effort to postpone their inevitable fates instead of just die so the original host will eventually be killed and the nightmare will be over is never brought up in the film. No one questions who was the first, and you know what? I think that’s pretty realistic. These kids don’t care about following a trail or finding clues. This isn’t ‘Final Destination’, these kids just want to live.
So, about my theory. When we actually do get to witness a scene where ‘it’ is killing someone, it’s pretty damn disturbing. The being takes on the form of a woman and appears to boink the young man to death… ? ‘It’ can change appearance and form into any human that fits its physical needs at the time, and the people it becomes usually seem to have sustained injuries at some point. However, we learn that ‘it’ prefers to take the form of a loved one or relative of its current victim. These two revelations and the method in which its targets are chosen lead me to believe the originator of this being was brutally murdered in a manner that was more than likely sexually based. I believe this person was either into black magic, or had a vindictive loved one that was into black magic and cursed the person who committed the act, forever damning them to a life of being followed. My guess is this person caught on and began boinking everyone in sight in an effort to delay their fate, thus leading to the plot for this film. I know, it’s a little shaky, but the beauty of a film with no back story is the freedom to invent your own.
Some people might still think the idea of sleeping with someone to “curse” them into being followed is silly, but if you think about it, it kind of makes sense. What’s the number one rule to survival in a horror movie? Don’t have sex. It might be a little on the nose, but I think it’s a clever nod to a horror movie superstition that’s been around for 40+ years, and I dig it. For those that still think it’s just a stupid idea that needs an actual reason, just go with my origin theory, or ask David Mitchell himself. Amazingly, this movie only had a $2 million budget and was written and directed by the same guy, who had only previously created one full-length feature – and that was an Indy comedy. I don’t know what chain of events sparked the alignment in the stars just right to bring this from an idea to a concept to a movie, but I’m incredibly thankful that it did. Among a sea of found footage garbage and awful attempts at remaking classics, this film gives me hope for this generation of horror movie makers.