It Follows


I brook against the idea of it being a movie about passing around sexually transmitted diseases. Because that just seems too simple. But the idea of sexual abuse, or sexual assault, I can see that more. It’s not my reading of the movie, but I can see it.

This is mainly because when we did the podcast for a movie called Your Sister’s Sister, my girlfriend identified an encounter that goes on between two of the characters as a sexual assault. I won’t spoil it here, since I think you should see that movie and it’s something of a spoiler, but it kind of opened my eyes as to the definition of sexual assault. What is going on in It Follows certainly falls under those guidelines, which I would glibly define as “under false pretenses” if asked to do so. Hugh/Jeff certainly has sex with Jay under false pretenses, even though there is consent. But she doesn’t realize what she is consenting to, so is that truly consent? Of course not. Sure, she is taking on risk in a sexual encounter, as we all do, but this is not a risk she can even imagine. He is fucking her for a devious purpose, so even though she has consented to the act of sex with him, she has done so under a certain assumption. That they are both performing the same act. That isn’t the case. So isn’t that an assault?

I love the way this debate works on me, because in a sense, aren’t many sexual encounters agreed to on varying premises? I might be doing it for love. Or to get off. Or to have a baby. You might be doing it because you’re bored. Or just want company. Or to have a baby. We don’t agree on those things every time, and we certainly don’t clear them with each other every time. So there’s so much gray area here. Of course, the situations in It Follows and Your Sister’s Sister involve more active intent, even criminal intent, so that adds another layer.

Regardless, I still think this movie is about how sex gets tied into love, and how that follows you for a very long time, almost beyond your control, and it can wreck you. Especially if you have sex at a young age. But not necessarily so. I was a late bloomer in that regard. But I had this acquaintance in high school who lost her virginity to some douchebag who never spoke to her again. They had sex to “Save a Prayer” by Duran Duran. She kept going on about that song for the three years I knew her in high school and talking about how he was the love of her life. I’m guessing she cannot hear that song today without thinking about that moment.

I think of her when I think of this movie, much more than I think of STD transmission. Or the inevitability of death.



There are many problems like those. Her friend, who stayed up all night to guard over her, leaves her after the window is broken!!! I mean, how many times have windows broken in the middle of the night around that guy that he thinks “Meh” even though it happens when he’s guarding someone?

But for me that’s where nightmare logic comes in. In nightmares, mine at least, sometimes that’s where the fear comes from, a disturbing break in logic. Shooting at something that is invisible even though your friends are directly behind It.

In answer to a couple of your questions, I’d say: She gave up on the beach and let It get her, after telling her dad goodbye. I’m assuming they all get raped, once It has subdued them(again linking to abuse theme). Think of It as an incubus/succubus type of creature. The girl who is the main character is never quite captured by It, which is why she escapes that fate. Bullets seemed to have a consistent effect, slowing or stopping It temporarily when a headshot is scored but never finishing It off. The one problem area is the pool scene, since I’d agree it is not clear what the implications of that result are supposed to be.

edit: That date was abusive because he was doing something to harm her in order to serve his own selfish needs. When you say he needed to show her the threat you are ignoring that he victimized her, that’s the only reason why she was facing that threat. Then he dumps her in the street in front of her house and leaves. I don’t know, it’s pretty clear to me.


If you compare the curse to other potentially deadly diseases such as HIV, then some countries already consider that assault. But of course in the case of HIV, transmission by intercourse is not guaranteed and, I imagine, rarely intended. A comparison to intentful poisoning might be have more merit?


It’s easy to argue that the encounter itself would have never happened if not for the curse, but if you remove the curse from the encounter there was only consensual sex on an ordinary date.

The real discussion here being whether abuse is a theme or not. Personally I’m leaning towards the loss of innocence angle mentioned by Christien above.


Small things make me reject the love angle. The first guy gets It from a one night stand, I don’t see how ‘sex gets tied into love’ factors in that. One character says about the main girl something about how she always has someone new, making me think the guy she gets It from is not anyone special. She even tells her sister “I know he wants to but…” in reference to sex with him, like she’s not all that excited about him. It just doesn’t seem to me that romantic love is really in any of their lives. Her male friend is the one exception, but he’s not the main character. Not only that, but it’s clear she doesn’t feel the same about him. Let’s face it, the only reason this guy has a chance with her is because she’s totally desperate at that point and he takes advantage of that. The only reason she accepts him is because he has to die before she’s in danger again, so he’s useful as a buffer and she takes advantage of that. That’s a twisted kind of love if that’s what it is.


You mean apart from the part where he chloroforms her and ties her to a chair?


It is. I don’t know why it has to be about one thing and one thing only. It’s only about things like STDs (or perhaps more accurately, the dangers of sex) on the surface side of things, I think.

It’s also about death (and the loss of innocence, no question), and the past catching up to you, and absolutely love for the reasons you state (not all sex is about love and thus not every encounter involving the passing of It in the movie is about love). But for Paul and also for Jay, it’s about love. What Paul feels for Jay in the beginning of the movie is [I]not[/I] love. Paul’s in the old “if I’m nice to her and I’m available to her she’ll love me in return” trap. But he’s not that guy by the end of the movie and Jay is different too, and that’s important. He doesn’t win her simply by hurdling all of the obstacles; them being together invovles growth on both their parts. And acceptance. Someone called it her settling for Paul earlier in the thread but I don’t see it like that.

So it’s also a coming of age story. but it’s not one that hinges on someone losing their virginity, which is a really refreshing change of pace. Losing one’s virginity does seem like a big deal at a young age but it’s simply a transition from one state to another. Actual maturation is much more tied into other things. Things like accepting one’s own past, or someone else’s past.

Haha. One cannot leave that, or the fact that Hugh knew he was doing something terrible by not telling Jay what the consequences of sex would be, out of the discussion. The fact that Hugh, while he is chloroforming Jay, is freaking out shows us how fucked up the entire thing is. And he knows it.


You’ve never been on a date?


Good movie! The premise does lend itself to that kind of quibbling we’re seeing in this thread – the demon has rules, and they’re laid out in the beginning. Then it becomes a puzzle for some viewers. During that 720 degree shot when they’re tracking down Hugh (only shot I rolled my eyes at) I was wondering about the math of it. But it wasn’t that distracting.

The insistence on slow pans across tree branches did a lot for me. The film was calm about everything, and that sold the dread even better. The Fez soundtrack – seriously, it’s by the same composer – was delightful. At first you think it’s too futuristic for the otherwise Gen-X suburban setting, but then again, how far away is the chiptune from the synths of Halloween?


Has anyone listened to the Commentary on the DVD release? I’m biding my time on buying it, but I want it now for that. Might rent it over the weekend to find out.


I know which encounter you talked about (basically there only ONE encounter to talk about in that movie), and I complete agree with your girlfriend, it was a sexual assault. It was the woman who was the perpetrator even. And the ending of that movie dismissed that encounter with this magically “it is OK, really” happy ending. That was the second most sickening thing about the movie, right after that intercourse under false pretence.

Still waiting for It Follows to come out in itunes though.


Interesting article about Quentin Tarantino’s ideas on how the movie could have been improved:


Sounds like Tarantino would fit right in discussing the movie on the forums here, and I’m certainly just as guilty as anyone of running off down the rabbit trails of the rules of a mythology like that, but sheesh, glad he had nothing to do with making it.


Yeha, I think his criticisms are overstated. I don’t need 100% internal consistently from It itself because the movie worked on so many levels.


I might agree if this was some sprawling epic, but it wasn’t. 100% should have been easily attainable. To me there was a lot of laziness. The pool (plot) device and the gun device were both lessons in WTF. Not even the marginally idiotic slackers I grew up with would act like that.


I enjoyed the movie as a nightmare come to life, so I’m not really looking for ‘realistic’ actions as such. In a more conventional horror movie I think what Tarantino says about it makes sense.

Also, he ascribes some traits to the characters that aren’t there. The girl won’t just have sex with that guy as a tactic, not at that point in the story. That kind of thinking would be out of character for her. She did attempt to use sex for safety, but that was in desperation, on a spur of the moment, and with someone she did not know(ie care for).


It’s true she didn’t have any particular feelings for Greg, but she certainly knew him. They hooked up and had sex back in high school, recall. That she avoid that with Paul until there was literally no other choice was telling, I thought. It’s a reason I don’t think Jay and Paul’s movie ending romance is entirely out of left field. And this all sort of services the Paul vs Greg narrative (nerdy best friend vs cool older kid).


I was referring to the guys on the boat, not Greg. Greg is sort of a co-conspirator in that instance. Tarantino seems to want her to be plotting some kind of strategy vs It and she’s really not that kind of person. That scene with the boat guys is the closest she comes to seizing the initiative in her fight against It.


Rented this over the weekend - I loved the palpable sense of dread it built which had me constantly scanning the backgrounds of the shots looking for it. I also liked that it didn’t go for jump scares much, but rather stuck with creating an atmosphere of creeping dread.


I just watched this. I liked it. It was a great concept, the kids in it did a great job, I thought it was a really well-made film; I especially loved the production design (the girl reading her clamshell e-book while everybody was watching a '50s movie on their CRT television was great, for example). I didn’t think too hard about what it was supposed to mean, so I don’t have much to add on that conversation.

After the movie I was just filled with questions. Mainly: How did Hugh learn the rules that he taught to Jay? If this is such an implacable, undefeatable force (like Death itself), how did the curse even get to Jay? Shouldn’t it have ended two or three people after it started, at most? How did it start?

Yes, I understand, that isn’t the point of the movie. It doesn’t have to explain those things to get its point across. Ok, that’s fine. Like I said, I quite enjoyed it anyway. I’m sure there will be some terrible sequel that will explain all that for me.

But I do like rules-based horror movies where the protagonists figure out what is going on and use that knowledge to survive (or try to, but fail). I guess the obvious example is “Final Destination”. I think “The Thing” would qualify as well. Can anybody suggest other examples of movies like that?