Monday, July 18, 2016

Detroit Teen Hipsters Practicing Seriously Unsafe Sex, or Thoughts on It Follows

From Writer and Director David Robert Mitchell, It Follows (2014) is a clever and original erotic ghost story that currently holds a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.   The movie exists in a surreal dreamscape, with subtle nightmare cues like the scenes switching from day to night, and the non-existent clamshell smart phone tech side by side with the old black and white cathode ray TVs.
Maika Monroe aka Patricia Whitmore, the president’s daughter in Independence Day: Resurgence (2016), stars as Jay, a leggy 19-year old coed who inherits a vengeful spirit after she sleeps with the wrong guy.  Things go from bad to worse when she gets chloroformed and wakes up strapped to a wheelchair under a bridge.  The purpose is to introduce Jay, and the audience, to what the filmmakers call “the entity”, and also offer a handy solution: all Jay has to do is sleep with someone else and pass the curse along to the next unlucky one night stand.
Overtly sexual, like an invisible post-millennial succubus that leaves a trail of bloody and broken bodies, the entity, who only Jay can see, takes on many forms but follows the standard Michael Myers school of walking slowly towards their target.  Some of the more frightening incarnations are an old lady in a hospital gown that Jay sees at school, the bloody blind tall man that breaks into her bedroom, and the nude man standing ominously on her roof.  The fact that only Jay and us as the audience can see these apparitions makes us complicit, an unwilling sexual partner of Jay’s, and creates an intimate edge to the terror that is rarely present in a horror movie.
There’s a fantastic, updated John Carpenter-esque soundtrack, in fact the whole movie is reminiscent of the hormonal teen angst from Halloween (1978) and the low budget 70’s bio-horror movies of David Cronenberg like Rabid (1977) and especially Videodrome (1983), where reality and dreams begin to coalesce, and also the ghostly attacks with Barbara Hershey in The Entity  (1981).  Additionally, any horror movie about teenagers and nightmares has to be compared to A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), and It Follows even has Daniel Zovatto as a slacker Johnny Depp and love interest for Jay.
Sex is always an element in the horror genre, but it rarely becomes a plot device that drives the entire narrative.  It Follows can be easily dismissed as an obvious AIDS metaphor but I like to think that the movie is more about the fear of intimacy and the hidden and unanticipated emotional impact that casual sex or even regular sex can have on someone.  From that perspective this becomes a movie about heartbreak and loss, albeit with the added bonus of naked men that only you can see stalking you silently from rooftops.

my first novel? thanks for asking:) I wrote a 4-volume supernatural martial arts series concerning the ongoing feud between a group of kung-fu killer witches in san francsico’s chinatown.