Wri/Dir by David Robert Mitchell
Prod. Corey Large, Alan Pao, Mia Chang P. Jennifer Dana, Frederick W. Green, Joshua Astrachan
Starring: Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Jake Weary, Olivia Luccardi
Picture yourself, bored, sort ofintelligent, a teenager, and living in the suburbs. Now picture what you woulddo for fun, for excitement? My guess is you’d probably be doing some recklessshit. One of these reckless things you might do is try to have sex. And that sex brings up repercussions—like your parents trying to ground you, people at school finding out, getting dumped right after, or a teen pregnancy. But It Follows, written and directed by David Robert Mitchell, a story about girl named Jay (Maika Monroe) in the suburbs of Detroit, thinking thoughts about it, S-E-X, and about growing up, takes that reckless sought after by some, act of sex to a level that will not so much scare you as make you question what’s at stake with it. After a date with her boyfriend, (who’s 21) played by Jake Weary, goes wrong because he is startled by something he thinks he saw (Jay gets insecure and asks if it’s an ex) there is a following night in which they actually do it—in the back of his car no less. Jay does not outright say or even mentions to her friends and sister that she wants sex, but the restlessness of not doing so, of not doing anything, and the attention she coolly plays off from boys seen in the sequence when we first meet her, and the way she looks at herself in the mirror dressed in pink dress and seashell choker–like she’s contemplating herself suggests some feelings about it, or what it, could do for her. Soon after it happens, Jay’s life starts to become a bizarre hell. Her boyfriend kidnaps her, then informs her that she has contracted something. A spell, that will bring someone, some thing to kill her. If she does’t pass this on by having sex with someone, it will kill her, it will kill him and keep on going. He turns Jay’s attention to a battered naked woman sauntering up to the abandoned parking garage they’re in. He tells Jay that that woman’s presence is there because she wants to kill her. They escape, he drops her off at home and leaves Jay terrified, trying to figure out how to keep from being killed while all the while no one else can see these ghosts. No one can help her. The ghosts appear in all shapes and sizes (no foreal, you’ll see) They appear as different people, none of the seemingly recognizable to Jay, suggesting that these people could be manifestations from anywhere and in any life time. There is no one person trying kill her.
It Follows takes place in a state of in transition. It is a movie set in contemporary times but has an old feel to it. When we first see Jay she is swimming alone in an above ground swimming pool in unkept backyard. She, her sister, and their friends watch old sci-fi movies on an old television unmonitored by her mother (the only trace of her father is in a picture on her mirror) in a house with old sofa’s, thick carpet, and wooded walls and floors. The film’s set design, costuming as well as its sound track attempts to ground you in the past—the 80’s. The use pinks, browns, blues, whites and greens, on set, along with the characters’ clothes, mixed in with film’s overly stylized, almost vibrant depiction of the suburbs and a broken down Detroit (south of 8mile) gives it a sense that exploration restricted to homeliness, age, and waiting. Reminds me of Ferris Beuler’s Day Off or the Breakfast Club. The soundtrack consists of buzzing synths and chimes give the film an edge and some distinctness, but takes away from the anxiety you get from watching a horror movie. These elements reduce the film at times to a mixture of near comedy, thinking of parody, and sexy camp. But transition is key here, and what the movie explores, and does a good job flushing out dealing with the moral descions of staying in one place (adolescence) and moving into a more haunting and daring place (young adulthood) It Follows is a movie about choices. A movie about being young, isolated, and forgotten and what it takes to move into a new existence. It may require wrestling around with a few ghosts or two—or three or four or five, but you got to be a little reckless every once in awhile.