Monday, October 19, 2015

It Follows

  Horror movies nowadays are faced with one of the most over-exposed and critical generations of movie-goers imaginable. We've seen it all, and we can't decide if we want more of the same, or something completely different. We praise certain movies that harken back to the good ol' days of horror movies (70's, 80's) but then chastise others for doing the same thing. Some are nostalgic, some are antiquated. I can imagine there's some studio executive somewhere nursing an ulcer trying to figure out what audiences actually want. Nah, who am I kidding? Studio executives clearly don't care about the viewers, it's the creative types who're trying to deliver the good stuff these days.

  It Follows is the good stuff, and let me tell you... it delivers. This movie has received anything short of exceptional praise, and the word of mouth has been phenomenal. I'm glad to add to the heap of good reviews and I'm pleased as punch to say it didn't disappoint. After I heard all the glowing praise for it, I tried to limit my exposure to any articles or reviews about it because I really didn't want anything spoiled for me going in. Some movies I could care less, because I can more or less guess fairly accurately what I'm going to be seeing anyways, but when words like 'inventive' and 'unique' start popping up I had to go into this cold and blind. Well, as much as possible anyways.

  If you're starving for a good modern horror movie like a suffocating man is dying for a breath of fresh air, I urge you to take my advice at this point- stop reading my review, and just go see it. You can come back to this when you're done if you feel like it. If you still need more convincing, at the possible risk of having some minor things spoiled for you, then go right ahead. I'll be talking about some concepts, themes, and tones in the movie that you'd probably be better off experiencing without anyone pointing them out beforehand, but hey- it's your life!  Anyways, I literally just finished watching this less than an hour ago, so my thoughts are a little scattered, yet I'm really excited to talk about it. Bear with me. I was making a point in my first paragraph that I will definitely be getting back to.

  It Follows takes a very old in-joke/trope and turns it into a fresh and original idea that works so amazingly well. You've all probably seen Scream right? As well as all the movies it references? So then you know, if you have sex in a horror movie... you're dead meat. Cabin in the Woods pointed this out as well, highlighting the fact that usually only the "virgin" survives, or saves the day. The horror genre has been tongue-in-cheek aware of this trope for a while, but dare I say have wholeheartedly failed to do anything creative with it- until now that is. See, in this movie the antagonist isn't a machete wielding maniac, or a ghost, or a deranged psychopath... we don't really know what it is, but we know what it does. Obviously, it follows you, and if it catches you... it kills you.

  But how does it start following you...? Get this: It's passed on to the next unfortunate person like an STD. Yeah, that's right- you're stuck with this eerie shape-shifting entity hellbent on killing you because it was passed on to you after sex like a supernatural curse. One of the characters hastily explains this to our protagonist at one point. From that point on, it's just a roller coaster of raw suspense, tension, and some truly creative set pieces that took me entirely by surprise. The movie deals with the core concept of sex in a really creative way. What was just as surprising was that, for a movie so sex-centric, it never comes off as exploitative or shlocky. It's part of the concept, the story- not a byproduct of it.

  The characters here seem like real people, with real lives and real histories together. Very well written. It avoids conventional archetypes like the plague for the most part. So when the heroine's life is turned upside down as she was abruptly saddled with this haunting curse- the first thing she's urged to do is pass it on. Why not? Well, the curse works backwards through it's line of victims. After it kills it's most recent one, it goes after it's previous, and so on. But more than that- there's a big ethical problem here. Obviously. The movie was one step ahead of me the whole time, just as I thought I was seeing where it was going, it already knew what questions and ideas the audience was going to have and it explores those things much to my satisfaction.

  What's also neat about this movie is how it manages to feel like it could've come from the 'good ol' days'. The tone, the atmosphere- all of it. It's brimming with a creative and original energy that's been sorely lacking from a massive amount of modern horror movies. That's the difference between the throwbacks that get chastised and the ones that get praised. What a lot of us loved about those eras of horror movies was that there was a constant stream of originality and creativity coming out. Even despite umpteenth sequels, and even some remakes, there was a still a sense of originality and fun. The Fly, The Thing, both remakes. Both fantastic. Yet, remakes nowadays are dreaded beyond belief.

   Because they're missing the point. They're trying to recapture something, but with their hearts set only on recapturing ticket sales. It Follows gets the point. It's about that unique energy that gives the audiences something new they haven't seen before. It's sad that that has become almost an antiquated and nostalgified notion. Hopefully movies like It Follows reminds other filmmakers why the 70's and 80's had it so good in the genre. I could keep talking about this movie for ages, but suffice it to say it was fantastic. Had me on the edge of my seat the whole time and genuinely interested about where it was taking me. Above all else, it uses it's concept to great effect- generating some honest to goodness scares. That's as rare as anything else in modern horror. I was legitimately creeped out throughout the movie.

  Thanks in no small part to fantastic acting all across the board, great cast, absolutely gorgeous cinematography and an amazing soundtrack- the music in this movie is ear porn. The movie looks beautiful, sounds haunting, and is just... great. It's great. Anyways, I can't say much else. This movie is frightening and engaging, and exceptionally well made. If it has any shortcomings, I'm too impressed to ferret them out right now. See it, you won't regret it.

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