It Follows: Driven by Desire

By now, after weeks of watching horror films, there’s no doubt that women continue to be the unfortunate victims of every plot line. Clearly, this is what sells and this is what makes more sense for the audience. But actresses today continue to fight against women objectivity in film. More often than not, women are depicted as lesser people than men. It’s an ongoing debate in my opinion, because despite equality and all, there are countless movies where men are equally  objectified as women. In Linda William’s article, she states that “many ‘good girl’ heroines of the silent screen were often figuratively or even literally blind.” Though Linda William points out that the blindness here signifies a perfect absence of desire, I believe someone can also be blinded by it. In this case, we see how Jay was blinded by her own sexuality and desires as a growing young woman. She’s a victim of her own faults because she seems easy and succumbs to what her sexual desires drives her to do. But at the same time, she makes a point that men continue to “see” women but are completely detached by their existence. This is why it was easy for Hugh pass the “it” or spirit to her.

Though this was a horror film, I felt it had similarities to that of a romantic comedy, just more twisted and definitely more darker. Sounds a bit absurd, but think about it this way. A young woman who exploring her sexuality falls in “love” with the a jock who has twisted story of his own. She then becomes a damsel in distress and at first sounds stupid to her friends because of this invisible monster only present in her eyes. However, they continued to fight it with her. Then the guy next door  comes into the picture. He, who has always been in love with her finds a way out and sacrifices his life to save her in the most extreme circumstances.  The story concludes with a somewhat happy ending with the two walking hand in hand and the monster no longer in sight. It sounds familiar and it definitely feels familiar, but just add all the nitty gritty details of what makes a horror film.

Given that this plot is easier to understand still haunts you in the most surprising ways possible. I love how the monster was not necessarily defined. It was an unknown force, invisible to the naked eye and raises more questions than answers. What is it, who is it, why is it following her, how did it begin and etc.

The scene that I liked the most was definitely the pool scene, where Jay and her friends try to create a trap for this evil spirit. At this point, everyone is aware and knows the reality that this monster exist. It was understood in the beginning that the Jay finds calmness and peace when she’s on water. It was as if it was her turf. Thus, when the friends decided to use the swimming pool as a way to catch the spirit, tracking its movement and giving it a form, we find ourselves in another twist. The monster is not just slow but can actually think for its own well-being. Who would have thought the monster wouldn’t have dove into that pool to catch her? Who have thought the monster knew those appliances were actually plugged?

Another point raised quite interestingly by Linda Williams is how “the woman’s gaze is punished, by narrative processes that transform curiosity and desire into masochistic fantasy.” It shows the weakness of the female heroine that makes them more desirable and easily persuaded by the men. They feed on their vulnerability so much so that it shows how men continue to be the stronger character regardless.

Lastly, at this point of our syllabus, we have seen how much sex is present in horror films and the odd consequences that it brings about with the story. It’s as if these directors make sex such a terrible and haunting experience for their protagonist. Especially in this film where sex was the only way out of the situation, in my point of view, women continue to be subject of ridicule because of this. Note that when it was the guy passing it on to the prostitutes, the sex scenes were not included in the film but when it was the girl who initiated, it was put in the film. Yet it can also be a call for the director to simply put the audience to their own interpretation or understanding of what happened.

 

Source: Linda Williams, “When the Woman Looks” Horror, The Film Reader (Routledge, 2002)

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