I haven’t seen Curse of the Demon, but It Follows is chock full of homages to 70’s and 80’s horror movies. They dovetail w/ the timeless nature of the film, as you described w/ different teen archetypes, and the modern/retro cars & technology.
I saw it last night, to a packed house. Such a great job of doling out tension. I found myself reduced to dumb physical tricks, squinting, and obscuring my view of the screen during a few moments when the director had conditioned me to expect something horrible to happen.
I don’t think the boat scene requires too much thought. The rules of the film suggest that the first guy is marked, but for Jay, it’s the desperate thought that counts.
Dingus, glad to have made your night. Kindred spirits, etc.
“I’m a misunderstood genius."
"Nobody thinks I’m a genius.”
It very much could have been filmed from the very late 60s to very early 80s. I don’t mean that it’s trying to be set in that period, but it feels like a film that was made during that time, in some respects. The muted, stark feel to everything. The choice of soundtrack. That Mitchell was taking from Romero and Carpenter was very much in evidence, but he was lovingly taking. And there was a dreamlike quality to a lot of it.
I couldn’t help but take certain things in the movie as nods to that most sacred of rituals - losing one’s virginity. Jay wears a pink dress on the first date we watch her and Hugh take (not their first date, of course). Before said date Sis asks “are you going to. . .”, and Jay just shrugs. Of course she’s not a virgin (we don’t know that yet; it doesn’t occur to me to question it until her and Hugh do it in the back of the car), but it still seemed like a deliberate nod to that. And Hugh does the dinner and a movie thing on that date, which feels very deliberate. Later they discuss going to the pool, how everybody got drunk there the first time. Paul asks sis who she went with the first time, and she rather pointedly shuts him the fuck up, because of course sneaking to the pool wasn’t just for getting drunk, it was for other things too. Other rituals. Jay and Paul talking after they finally consummate. “Do you feel different?” he asks. “No, do you feel different”? It’s not what they are talking about (strictly speaking we don’t know Paul is a virgin but I doubt it), but it’s hard not to see the parallel.
Regarding the boar scene, I couldn’t help in that scene but think Mitchell was using a really subtle version of the “it” theme music, based on the sound of their radio carrying out over the water. Did I misshear that? It was hard not to see her as something of a predator in that scene. But isn’t everyone, when they decide they’re going out that night and hoping to get laid, just a little bit of a predator?
It Follows was both exactly what it said it was going to be but also much more. Mitchell’s use of sound, both the score and all the ambient noise/absence of noise at times, was superb. I was a little worried about the score at first (it’s so. . .in your face) but that quickly changed. Jay sitting along on a swing in the midst of serenity quickly turns ominous until eventually approaching figures (she is about to lose her shit at this point) identify themselves. The birds at the end (hard not to read a lot into that). Lake Michigan lapping against the shoreline during various scenes. The use of slow motion in some of the intense scenes was sharp.
I can’t stop thinking about this movie. I need to listen to the podcast still.
That’s a great post, peacedog. I need to think about your point about rituals some more.
On a silly note, it took me way too long to figure out that boar was a typo. I just kept thinking, “Oh my. I really missed something in this movie. There was a boar scene? Uh.” I don’t mean to poke fun, but to say that it was an amusing moment as I sat here racking my brain.
“Look. Somebody broke the window. That really happened.”
All of the interior scenes appeared to be filmed with late 60’s to mid 70’s furnishings. That seemed very intentional. The “e-reader” really stood out, as well as the finger monitor when she was hospitalized. The exterior shots were much more modern day…and possibly this was due to budget issues. I did notice whenever they had passing traffic, it was muted/blurred in some way…Though some vehicles/signs were definitely way too modern. Detroit was beginning to show serious decline after huge riots in the late 60’s.
I think the period crossing [I]was[/I] intentional. I am uncertain as to what the message there is, except possibly one that “IT” is something people have always been struggling with over time.
I saw this last night with 7 of my teenage daughter’s friends. I was pleasantly surprised that they stayed mostly quiet during the whole movie and really liked it for the most part. We all felt like it was more tense than scary, but that wasn’t a bad thing. The rubber ball freaked everybody out and set the tone for the rest of the movie; you never know when something is going to happen. I think that was one of the cool things about the jump scares in this movie. Most of them came out of quiet times and the director didn’t deliver them all the time. The pans that didn’t result in anything were just as effective as the ones that did due to the atmosphere of dread.
A couple more things about the era of the movie: all of the TVs and radios were really old school and I had to explain to my daughter what an electric typewriter was. Pretty neat. As mentioned above, the costumes were all over the place. Loved the rainbow leg warmers. It also could come from the fact that these teens came from lower income families (I think) and they probably got a lot of their clothes from thrift stores.
One of the things that I loved was the low tech production values; tension and fear were created using simple things, found items and (mostly) ordinary people. I bet the biggest cost in the film was the corpse at the beginning. The retro clothes probably were also bought by the costumer at a thrift store to save on production costs. The cool thing is that it all worked.
I mostly came to say how glad I am that Tom is back. His absence from the podcast really took something away from it, to the point that I started seeking out flicks I hadn’t seen that were the subject of back episodes just so I could listen to the full team again. Thanks so much for coming back; it was tough without you.
I watched this flick with the girlfriend, and we were both disappointed by it. Maybe it’s the misleading 95% on RT; maybe it’s the fact that I’m 29 now and the characters all made me feel old; I don’t know. The nothing ending was disappointing, and the lead had no range. The teens had little or no character, and their feeble attempts to kill “It” made little sense. I think the film still worked on the whole, but I doubt people will be talking about it at year’s end.
Thanks for the kind words, Mog! The guys did an admirable job holding down the fort, but I think we all agree the podcast is at its best with all three of us present.
Isn’t that kind of the point, though? Given that it’s a metaphor for death, part of what makes this a horror movie is the futility of resisting it. That’s also why I really liked the ending. You either die flailing about ridiculously, or you resign yourself to a grim acceptance and at some point you even stop looking over your shoulder.
As for whether people will still be talking about it, I guess that depends on what you mean. I think it’s a pretty Important movie as far as horror movies go and it’s got quite a following (get it?). I think people will still be talking about it for quite some time. At the very least, it’s a commercial success that probably killed TWC/Radius’ business model of simultaneous theatrical/VOD releases.
I think there will be a rousing discussion about it on the 10 year anniversary when Tom and Triggercut revisit it during the Halloween horror extravaganza (and this will be the third time it’s somehow covered on the front page).
I have no doubt they won’t be alone in still talking about the movie. It’s pretty remarkable, IMO of course.
So I saw this today and managed to go into it knowing absolutely nothing about it other than the title and a vague impression that it was supposed to be good–I had no idea even as to the genre. I think I probably need a little more time to put my thoughts about it in order, but my initial reaction was not overwhelmingly positive and I didn’t find the film very engaging at all. Part of it was that it felt weirdly paced, and I didn’t find any of the characters particularly interesting , and a large part may be that I just find stories about teenage romance/sexuality to be kind of tedious.
That said, I loved the score and there were some really striking and beautiful shots (the blades of grass laid across the protagonist’s leg, the scenes of urban decay, the shot of the tall man in the doorway). I’m a little divided on the “timeless” aesthetic, though. The costume designs, the interior decoration, the old electronics, etc were all fantastic, but I found the contrast between that stuff and the e-reader, the electronic screen for the organist at the theater, some of the modern cars, etc. to be really distracting and I ended up spending way too much time thinking about what period this was supposed to be set in, or whether there would be some sci-fi plot twist at some point to explain it. Which is not to say I believe it needed that, but the very deliberate nature of the use of conflicting period aesthetics combined with my lack of foreknowledge as to the plot got me thinking there might be more to it and probably took me out of the film because of it.
Also, what the hell was the one kid’s grand plan with the pool? How was that supposed to work out in his head?
I still don’t believe that Jay sleeps with the guys on the boad. I know it’s widely contested, but, for me, I initially thought she did and that’s what she expected to do. Then, with her conversation with Paul, I realized she didn’t. The only detail that makes me question is the state of the pool, but I interpreted that as the creature walked straight through the pool at one point to get to her, which is why it seems damaged. Not really sure about the time passing between her running away and everyone sleeping in the same room, but she does make a comment about not being able to pass it along, that it’s wrong. Maybe it’s supposed to be her defense against his conversation, but this is only something I’ve attributed to it as a possibility in the weeks since I’ve seen it.
Another bit to note is that the version of “It” we see with Hugh is his mother naked, similar to Greg. You get a great reaction shot from Jay when his mother answers the door, where it’s obvious (to me, at least) that she recognizes her from the abandoned structure that Hugh prepared her in.
My biggest difference in opinion is with my interpretation of It. I think it’s more of a representation of sexual abuse. You clearly see a lot of the “incidental” nudity as that. The forms were violated in some way. Add to that, the way the characters react a lot of the time, they are fine, then they see It and it completely destroys whatever mood they have. It (the abuse) is something that they will never be able to get away from and it will haunt them, no matter who they are with or what they do. Sex may only be able to fill the void, but, even then, it’s a part of that act and the memory can come back and hit them at any time.
Essentially, she told him that it would be wrong to pass it in light of what happened with Greg, despite his willingness. If you think about it, she was panicked when she drove off after Greg’s death. Same thing could be seeing the three guys. I can easily see it come down to “I’ll just pass it off to those guys” then getting in the water and not being able to follow through or getting halfway and talking herself out of it. If they’d shown her get to the boat, then cut, I’d be more inclined.
Same can be said with the car ride home, she’s wet and crying, but she’s also grieving for a friend. It does indicate she just went through something traumatic, but we also learn (in her conversation with Paul) that she was not a virgin and had slept with Greg before, and she thought that he would be able to deal with it. At the end, it could be that she was in shock until she got in the water, then came out of it and retreated.
That, and we’re never really told the rules for multiple partners. As previously mentioned, does it only pass to one person or each person she has sex with afterword, even if they’re not in line? That would change the dynamic and, for me at least, fit in more with Tom’s reading of death. Still haven’t parsed Christien’s love reading.
I think, if anything, the boat scene bolsters your interpretation of the movie w/r/t sexual assault. The idea that the abused often grow up to become abusers is right there in that scene. I don’t necessarily subscribe to your interpretation, but I think there is evidence for it and the boat scene is a pretty good exhibit that I’m surprised you don’t include.
As for my love reading…I don’t know. I think that’s just particular to me and how I tend to wrap up sex and love in my own life. How sexual experience for me as a young man was always bound up with love, whether I wanted it to be or not, due to my upbringing. I think looking at Paul’s through-line this film, and what motivates him, is the key for me in that regard.
Okay, I remember that conversation, but I don’t remember it word for word, so I may have missed something. I took it as she couldn’t bear to do it (pass along the “curse”) again because of what happened to Greg, [I]and maybe also because of guilt for the guys on the boat.[/I] I don’t think there was anything in the conversation that explicitly ruled out the possibility that she passed it off again after Greg, only that whatever had happened, she wasn’t willing (at that point of the conversation with Paul) to pass it off again.
Anything unseen between scenes is possible, but I just don’t think that’s likely. We see her find the guys, we see her strip down, we see her start to wade into the water. End of scene. I can’t even remember exactly whether they just cut to her in the car right away, or if there was a scene with someone else in between here, but it’s not relevant. Her next scene is in the car, with the camera emphasizing the soggy cast and her wet hair. That’s telling us that between scenes, she [I]definitely[/I] went farther out into the water, and what’s driving my interpretation is that I don’t understand why they would reveal that she went further if the implication wasn’t that she went all the way, so to speak.
I was curious about this as well, though it doesn’t really factor into whether she did or didn’t go out to the boat. The fact that there were three guys on the boat doesn’t mean she slept with all of them, and if she did, that still only raises unrelated questions about how “It” would deal with them. On that unrelated line of questions, I also wondered what would happen if she and Paul continued to sleep together. Does the curse pass back and forth each time, altering which one of them It would target first? I don’t think that affects the significance or meaning of any other scenes, but it’s morbidly fascinating to wonder about.
I think figuring out the logistics of how a multiple-partner sexual encounter would transfer the ‘It’ is not that difficult a task. I’m really glad the movie doesn’t bother with that, and that it doesn’t bother with showing us more than it does. I think it trusts us to figure it out, given her state in the car, and given the days that follow.
What I like as I consider this is the idea of a comedy sketch where the ‘It’–which I see as some amorphous ancient evil–is sitting there rolling its eyes at the whole prospect of breaking down the order of operations after the four-way she has initiated. “Really, Jay? Really?” Then a heavy sigh as the ‘It’ wades through the frat boys one by one, trying to figure out who has to come first.
I think we’re given the rules regarding inheritance; it’s irrelevant after you pass it on, until such time as it passes back around to you again. When we run back in to Hugh he still seems unnerved, as one would be given the ordeal he went through (an ordeal that cost his highschool sweetheart her life, I am guessing because he didn’t believe in it at first). He says he can still see it so he’s not sure what that means, but we knew he could see it still from the aftermath of his hooking up with Jay. He’s no longer operating in super paranoid mode; he’s living at home with his parents/mother, not at all like the house he abandoned. If you passed it to everyone you were with, forevermore, after acquiring it the order would get a little crazy and it doesn’t really fit the narrative.
I like the boat scene because Jay is basically a predator there, and it does sort of parallel the course It takes. I read it as she went and did a gang bang. Not because she’s hoping she can send it off in three directions at once (or put three buffers between herself and it). The entire encounter is just about putting a buffer between herself and it. But she’s also in complete charge, and it’s happening on her terms. Paul’s plan to pass it to a sex worker makes sense on the immediate level because said worker will pass it on, because shortly after It catches up with whoever was currently at the top of the list then the target will have a new Top. But I also don’t think the end reflects them thinking “hey, we’re safe or as safe as we’ll ever be” because of that. No, the end is about acceptance - with their own pasts, with each other’s pasts, with each other - and not being trapped by the past. It’s why the scene is such a stark contrast with the meeting with Hugh in his mom’s back yard.
Right, I’m also glad the movie doesn’t actually get bogged down in any logistics. That’s just where my mind goes though. For the boat (or any other situation), I would guess It is only concerned with the first guy Jay boinks.
I also wondered about other stuff, like how it exactly It can and can’t move, what its restrictions are, what it’s aware of, etc. It’s not literally just a straight-line point A to B pursuit, otherwise it wouldn’t navigate buildings, understand or use doors, break windows, throw things at Jay, etc. It has some basic reasoning capabilities. But how much? I doubt it could operate a vehicle, but could it ride one? Does it use public transit? Why is It on the roof at one point? Was it going to go in an upstairs window, or was that just a nice creepy image? Unimportant to the movie, but fun to wonder about.