It Follows

It Follows is directed by Robert Mitchell. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2014. It was released worldwide in 2015. The film ran on a budget of 2 million dollars and grossed over 14 million dollars in the box office. Interestingly, the film was based on the director’s dreams of being followed.
I found the film gross and disturbing. The gap between the monster and humans were bridged through sexual intercourse. Additionally, the film brought paranoia in the picture wherein the victim does not know where the monster will come from and who will it be. With that, the movie became dragging and slow-paced. It did not have a lot of “jump scares” because it focused on being chased. There is always a certain distance between the “It” and the victim.

There were a lot of possible metaphors in the film. “It” may be referring to a disease. No one knows the It’s origin nor its real identity. However, the only known element of It is its means of transmission– through sexual intercourse. The film shows how something that is pleasurable can also bring the feeling of being haunted may it be from a moral perspective or a health perspective. First, in the moral perspective comes double standard. It is considered “immoral” for women to be sleeping with a lot of people while it is normal for men to do so. For example, Jay is being haunted by the fact that she just slept with a random boy that she liked. She knew nothing about him yet she gave her virginity for him. In the health perspective, Jay fears that she may have “caught” something from having sex with a stranger. This leads to me to my second metaphor. “It” may be a metaphor for AIDS and the movie is like a dramatic representation of the disease and its effect to the society. Since “the other” is something that we outcast in society, I think the movie is teaching us that AIDs is more prevalent and dangerous to society.  Next, “It” can be psychological. Only a few people can see It. The only ones who can see It are the ones who are linked through sexual intercourse. Next, “It” can be rumors or ideas. Humans can get easily brainwashed especially by the people who are close to them. “It” can be the rumor that is easily spread. It follows the people who spread it and It becomes a part of them. Lastly, “It” may be the fear of the unknown.“It” may be referring to the unfamiliar and unknown. Human beings generally get frightened by the unknown and the unfamiliar, however, more often than not they want to look or experience. For example, when Paul wanted to “sacrifice” himself for Jay, he wants to experience “it” for himself. “It” awakened the sense of curiosity that is natural for human beings.

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According to Linda Williams, the woman exists to be looked at. The woman exists so that the dominant male can look at her. However, when she looks back she is punished. For example, Jay was punished for looking at Hugh. Her punishment was “It” being transferred to her. Williams also said that the gaze of a woman has the power to mutilate and transform the vulnerable male. For example, Greg is the vulnerable male. He allowed himself to be sacrificed for Jay.

John Clute provides four movements in horror film: sighting, thickening, revel and aftermath. First, sighting is when nothing is happening yet. However, you see something that hooks you into the narrative. In the beginning of the film, a girl was seen to be frantically running away from something that no one else can see. Next is thickening. This is when things start to become weird. Usually, the threat is introduced. In the theater scene, Hugh was the only one who saw the girl wearing the yellow dress. After seeing the girl, he started to act anxiously. Next is revel. It is the uncovering of reality that was not really reality. The reality that you started with turns out to be a non-reality. It is like peeling the layers of a fruit and finally getting to the good stuff. In the movie, it was seen the part where Hugh warns Jay about the curse. She was also able to see the naked woman following her. Lastly, the aftermath is the basically the ending. Because Greg died, Jay transfers It to Paul. Paul, then sleeps with prostitutes. The movie ends with Jay and Paul walking down the street holding hands. It was open-ended because there was a person walking towards them. Was it just a normal person who has happened to be walking behind them? Or did the prostitutes get killed and It is following them again?

Source:

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

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