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“It Follows”

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It Follows” is a 2015 horror film about a young woman who contracts a sexually-transmitted “follower” after sleeping with a young man. This follower takes various forms–an old woman, a naked woman, a shadow-eyed man, her own friends–but always follows, slowly and menacingly. She must pass it on (sexually), kill it, or forever elude it.

I missed the first twenty minutes of the film the first time I saw it, so I did some research on it to fill in some gaps for me. (I’ve since seen the whole movie.) I found some interesting stuff. One thing that fascinated me about the film were its sets. “It” was filmed in Detroit–decrepit neighborhoods that look like ghost towns, the crumbling inner city, and the modest suburbs that looked like they were barely clinging to respectability. One theory about the film is that it is a metaphor for the AIDS epidemic of the 80’s. Interestingly, the sets/costumes make this somewhat plausible because they seem to evoke every time period from the late 70’s right on up to the Aughts. It’s like the filmmaker was purposely trying to obscure the time period. But I don’t find the AIDS metaphor particularly intriguing. It’s the idea of creeping poverty that excites me. Detroit–crumbling from the inside out–seems to me the perfect metaphor for economic downturn, how eventually it will effect everyone. It follows. You can’t escape it. It’s the thing about “It Follows” that really stuck with me. It wasn’t just that it was enduringly creepy–it was. It was that it was astonishingly depressing. I’m not sure I would have had much hope for these kids even if they weren’t being followed by scary sex-phantoms.

It’s a credit to “It Follows” that I was thinking about it long after I finished watching it; I think it’s a sort of Rorschach Test of a movie: you can overlay any of your fears on it. Plus, it’s that horror film that actually delivers quality scares and resorts to very little gore to do so. I heartily recommend it.

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