It Follows (MNM)



Main Cast: Maika Monroe, Daniel Zovatto

Director: David Robert Mitchell

The editor for my memoirs, the divinely inspired Mayhew Blumengroh, has been hard at work sorting memorabilia from my early days in Hollywood when I was a contract starlet with Monumental Pictures. I look at some of the publicity stills he unearthed from the bottom of various boxes and it’s hard to believe that wisp of a girl would soon be vaulted to fame as an Academy Award winning actress and decades of international superstardom. I feel so thankful for all of the opportunities life (and various film and stage producers) has given me over the years. But I’m not dead yet and I’m sure there’s going to be even more amazing things in the future if the right property will just come across my threshold.

Nope. Not even pizza pie.

I have received an offer to take over the lead in the national tour of the musical Waitress but after reading the script, I’m not sure that’s the right choice for me. My legions of fans would never buy me as a simple country girl making pies in a diner. I suggested to the production team that they make a few teensy changes and reset the show in a highbrow Manhattan bistro where Jenna would be an award winning pastry chef world renowned for her bombe glacee and give me at least six changes into fashionable evening gowns and then it might be a possibility.

I’m surprised I haven’t heard anything back from them yet. There’s also been an inquiry if I might be available to take over the lead in the new gender swapped Company as Bobbi. I’d be willing to consider it, but only if ‘The Ladies That Lunch’ is reassigned to me from Patti Lupone. We’ve had issues ever since my disastrous guest spot on Life Goes On a few years back. That’s the last time I appear in a frog suit on network television.

My eyes were glazing over from reading scripts so I decided it was time to enjoy a film, so I retired to the home theater and flipped on Netflix to see what they were hawking and ran across a smart little horror film from a few years back, 2014’s It Follows written and directed by David Robert Mitchell. Given the way Netflix was hyping it in its things you should watch category, I decided to give it a whirl. I wasn’t sure what I was in for, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised.

We are in suburban Detroit. The mid-century neighborhoods of wide streets and abandoned house after abandoned house add to the quietly unnerving tone of It Follows. Director Mitchell shot most of the film with wide angle lenses giving the backdrop of the ruin of the American Dream a sense of an all encompassing environment. It’s an inspired choice. We focus in on an occupied house. All of a sudden, a young woman dressed in camisole and CFM pumps bursts out the door and starts running down the street. (How she does not trip over those heels is not explained).

Later she drives away in a panic, stopping at a beach whence she calls her family saying she loves them. In the next shot, we see her brutally murdered corpse. Cut to a group of late high school/early college students that hang out together in the same (similar?) neighborhood. The pretty girl Jay (Maika Monroe) is getting ready for a date with her new beau Hugh (Jake Weary).

They head off to an old time movie palace for a revival showing and while there, Hugh becomes unnerved by a young woman that he sees but Jay does not. He and Jay eventually have a consensual sexual encounter but, at the end of it, he chloroforms her and when she awakes, she is tied into a wheelchair and Hugh is babbling about how she is now being followed and she has to have sex with someone else before ‘it’ catches her to pass on the curse or it could catch and kill her, then turning back to Hugh and so on back up the chain. The only hope is to keep passing the curse forward. Jay is scared by the naked woman who appears to be walking toward her.

Jay reports all of this to the police who can find no trace of Hugh or naked women and she confides in her friend group which includes her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe), Yara (Olivia Luccardi), Paul (Keir Gilchrist), and neighbor Greg (Daniel Zovatto) – the latter useful as he seems to be the only one with access to a car. The five of them flee town to Greg’s family lake house but the entity attacks there. We have narrow escapes, supernatural attacks, a car crash in a cornfield, and a regrouping of the gang in a swimming pool determined to kill the entity. There’s also a couple of sexual encounters and transferences to muddle things as well.

I ended up quite liking It Follows for the aforementioned cinematography (Mike Gioulakis) aided by a suitably unnerving and creepy film score credited to Disasterpeace (whose real name is Richard Vreeland and is best known for scoring video games). Writer/director Mitchell also gets quite decent performances out of his young cast, especially from Miss Monroe in the central role of Jay.

There are a few things that bothered me though. Our young people seem to exist in a world without adults with awareness of their youngsters’ activities. The few times we see a parental figure, it’s usually as a plot device to allow the entity that’s following them to assume a familiar form. The film is also, in a few spots, a little muddled in its storytelling, making a few of the plot points a little hard to follow. I had a hard time figuring out why there was an electric iron in a swimming pool area, for instance.

Still, in the end, It Follows is well-crafted and gets under your skin. The allegory of the entity to HIV or another sexually transmitted infection is a bit ham-handed at times but if the metaphor is one to make young people who watch the film better understand consequences of bad decision making, I’m all for it. I look forward to seeing other films in the future from Mr. Mitchell as he has a very sure hand at putting together a project that creates a unique world view and a cohesive whole in terms of look and tone.

Movie theater organist. Above ground pool. Red rubber ball. Gratuitous old woman in hospital gown. Wildly inaccurate revolver shots. Crushed aluminum cans. Porn magazines. Extremely tall man. Overweight sex workers.

To learn more about Mrs. Norman Maine, see our Movie Rewind introduction

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