Paranoia: An Analysis of It Follows

It-Follows-Car-Door

It Follows was such an exciting film to watch simply because of the feeling of not knowing. this may frustrate some viewers but I find it all the more exciting when I see myself rooting for a certain character that is in pursuit.

The film somehow reminded me of Dead Silence, in a way that it makes you feel so uncertain in such a normal occurrence. Not knowing if the silence is shared is similar to not realizing whether the person next to you is the monster in It Follows.

It annoyed people how slow the film is at the beginning but I think this was necessary in pacing the film especially in terms of the very theme of it, which is constant, yet slow pursuit. The mere fact that the monster portrayed can take any form is terrifying already. The monster may be slow, but the idea that a being may be following you at any time, anywhere, and in whoever’s form can really drive a person insane.

The reading that applies most to this film is Linda William’s When a Woman Looks, seeing as though the film plays so much on the female gaze. At the beginning, Jay is portrayed as the typical popular girl who is sought after by multiple suitors. Even during the sex scene, there was one clear message: She only existed to be “looked at.” Hugh only used her as a way to escape the treacherous monster who is constantly following him. And even when she was the one who had the “power” to transmit the disease, we see that her gaze was punished. She could not seem to escape the monster because those who she transmitted it to had all fallen victim to the monster, and the whole cycle goes back to her.

Once she takes charge in wanting to transmit the curse to another, like the boys in the yacht, she shows us her power to mutilate and transform the vulnerable male. It is here a recognition that she poses a similar if not equal power to the patriarchy. She uses the two teenagers on the boat instead of the other way around, as a either a recognition of her power or the acknowledgement of her desperation.

Having been assigned to this movie for the presentation, our group was able to deliberate on what the monster or “it” may be a metaphor for. First, it is important to note that the mode of transmission of the “curse” is through sex. This makes the film a sort of metaphor for the stigma of AIDS in societal standards. We see individuals with AIDS as being outcasted despite it not being an airborne contagion. This is show with how Hugh had isolated himself in abandoned house, only having to take care of himself by arming the windows with cans and the doors with bolts. Second, the monster may be a psychological concept as only those who have been intimate with one another can be afflicted by it. It is similar to being exposed to an idea. For example, if one is presented with an idea one cannot grasp completely, it stays with the person. You mull over it until you try to make sense out of it from your own terms. It follows you even when you only think about it in the subconscious. Lastly, it can refer to the unknown, which is a very familiar concept in horror. We as the audience are repulsed or are terrified by the unknown yet we are piqued by our curiosity to want to experience or at least look at it.

I did not know exactly what the last scene had meant but I might just watch the film again to be able to make sense of it. My groupmates and I agreed that there is a collective frustration amongst us with regards to the hesitation repeatedly shown by the characters in the film. We also think that the prostitution idea was very powerful since it showed the kind of desperation the character had in the film, leading them to selfishness.  The film overall was a joy to watch, and it is a bit overwhelming considering that it was a low budget film. There were a lot of beautiful cinematography in the film, especially at the first few scenes but overall, I think it’s a very innovative film, making use of both the male and female gaze and utilizing well the appeal of the unknown to an audience who thrive from the feeling of uncertainty.

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