Imagine knowing that something was following you but not exactly knowing what it was and what it would do to you. This thought would definitely drive you nuts and keep you looking over your shoulder everywhere you go at all times. The fact that you have no idea what it was that was following you even increases the horror you feel making you run for your dear life. It Follows, for me, managed to give its viewers this kind of feeling while and even after watching the film. Not only did it deliver such eerie feeling, it also managed to deliver a relevant message.
Though slow-paced, it was not impossible for the film, It Follows, to terrify its viewers. Aside from its creepy and disturbing theme. It was, at the same time, disgusting as can be seen by the interaction between the monster and its victim. Although it did not have as much jumpscares as other horror films, the film was able to make the viewers feel uneasy and paranoid in its approach of showing how, in the movie, nowhere is safe – the monster can be anyone – can be your family or friend, or a total stranger, and anywhere.
While watching the film, I thought that it was creative in delivering its message, although unintended as mentioned by the director in an interview, through using “It” as an odd but interesting metaphor for a disease. “It” could be believed as HIV/AIDS such that it alarms people because no one really knows what “It” is and where “It” came from in the first place. Its mode of transmission being sex, the film shows how something that is pleasurable can also bring the feeling of being haunted from either a moral or health perspective, or both. For the moral perspective, there is a double standard that is evident where it is considered to be immoral or impure for women to be sleeping with a lot of people while it is okay or a lot easier for men to do so without receiving the same judgment that most women get. This can be seen in the film as Jay is being haunted by the fact that she just slept with a random guy she liked – someone who she really knew nothing about. While from the perspective of health, Jay fears that she may have caught something from engaging in a sexual intercourse with a total stranger.
“It” as a metaphor for HIV/AIDS makes the film a dramatic representation of the disease and its effect to the society, most especially to the person who has it, which is mostly horrific. Because we most commonly shun or reject “the other” from the society, this leaves us to think that the film may be telling us that HIV/AIDs is more prevalent and dangerous to the society than we all are aware of, and “the other” is shown through the “It” which the characters of the movie are terrified of or are desperately trying to get rid of or get away from. “It” not only attacks the person physically, but at the same time, psychologically as can be seen in the film wherein those who have “caught” it are anxious and paranoid, making them extra observant of their surroundings.
In the film, it can be observed that a woman only exists to be looked at, according to Mulvey. It is only the dominant male that sees, leaving no place for the woman’s pleasure in seeing. At the same time, the woman’s gaze is punished. An example would be the woman’s terrified look at the horrible body of the monster. In the film, this can be seen as Jay’s desire for the boy transforms into a terrified look at the body of the monster which has been led to her after she accepted Hugh and “let him in”.
The paranoia and desperation felt by the characters, especially by the main character, Jay, was well translated in the film. Watching Jay desperately saving herself from “It” was, at the same time, difficult and driving me, as a viewer, just as paranoid as she was. As I mentioned, the film was rather slow-paced, however, it kept me on edge. Especially when it was already established in the beginning that “It” will indeed follow you and that “It” will kill you – and extremely violent at that, as can be seen in the first scene. Being oblivious to what “It” actually is, or who “It” may turn out to be makes the slow pacing of the movie forgivable as it was still effective in generating reactions closely related to what the characters may have felt, although, possibly in a different sense – frustration in a sense where the viewers could be heard complaining at the screen asking, “what kind of monster is this?” While for the characters, frustrated as they could not seem to understand how to destroy this monster; and desperation in the sense where the viewers could not just wait to know what or who “It” was and what “It” would do to its victim when “It” would get to her, while for the characters, desperate in saving themselves from “It.”