Ever thought of being followed by someone or something literally everywhere you go? That someone would always walk with blank eyes, and no emotion at all, only to find out that it wants you dead? It is safe to assume that you will definitely give up everything just to take that someone away from you, may it be a restraining order, or maybe, kill it with fire. But, what if the only way to stop it from following you is to have sex with a complete stranger? I would, because as they might say, desperate times call for desperate measures.
It Follows (2004) is a movie about a young girl named Jay who is currently dating a guy named Hugh. It started out good, until they played a certain game in the movie house. The mechanics were simple, person 1 will find someone, and person 2 will guess who that someone is. Unfortunately, the person Hugh picked was not visible to Jay – they bolted out of the cinema. The next day, Hugh and Jay had a nice romantic night out and had sex for the first time. Jay thought it was the nicest thing in the world, to give up everything to someone whom you could trust, until Hugh sedated her with chloroform and tied her to a chair. After waking up, Jay finds out that by having sex with Hugh, she inherited the curse where an unknown identity will follow her by walking everywhere she goes until she has sex with another person who successfully transfers it to another person. It should be noted that each person who inherits the curse, needs to make sure to pass it on and on or else the curse goes back to the one who inherited it. And those who have inherited and passed it on will always see or feel the curse but will not be the target.
As the movie progressed, I thought the movie was a symbolism for sexually transmitted diseases or STDs. The curse was inherited through sexual intercourse, is not seen (or detected for that matter) by other people who does not have it, and most especially, the passing on requirement was kind of like the “cure” where the previous owner of the curse can still see it, is exempted from death but knows that the one who inherits is subject to death.
Perhaps this is where Robin Wood’s article entitled American Nightmare can come into play. He says that one thing that is repressed in the culture, among other things is sexual energy and sexuality itself. Where sex is deemed decent only for the purpose of reproduction for future ideal inhabitants, and not for making connections with other people as a natural necessity of human beings. Thus reducing the individual’s energy to a minimum which results to frustration and anxiety.
Jay was indeed uneasy at the idea of giving herself to Hugh, probably because they just met and giving herself to him at an early stage may lead to an unwanted result such as Hugh finding her too easy and leaves her once she’s given up her body to him. Although he left her literally after having sex with her, he gave her another problem, a problem where an individual may succumb to frustration and more anxiety since Jay was the only one who can see the curse among her friends.
The movie ended on a confusing note, one of Jay’s trusted male friends urged her to pass I to her which took some time for bargaining. But after thinking that there is no other way, Jay gave in and gave it to her friend, who passed it on to a prostitute, which I think is the smartest move ever. While the two characters were saved, the movie ended with someone following behind them leaving me to question the ending, is the person following them the curse or maybe just a local who happen to walk behind them?
Source: Robin Wood, ‘The American Nightmare: Horror in the 70s’, from Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan (New York, Columbia University Press, 1986).