It Follows is the little indie horror film that could. What began as a modest, limited release has catapulted into a nationwide frenzy. Hailed by critics and moviegoers far and wide in grandiose adoration. Perched upon a pedestal as the second coming of a lost retro age of 70s to 80s frights. The towering hype surrounding it all sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, answers are bound to vary when you’re forced to overanalyze such a pontificating chore that just might rub you raw.
Therein lies my gripe with how It Follows unraveled. I can already sense the pitchforks and torches. Alas, I cannot share the endless sentiments of this supposed psychological and visual masterpiece. If it’s any consolation, know that I tried my damnedest to see the big hoopla. But much like pretentiously edgy performance art, the more I gaze, the more I realize how it’s so full of itself. Even worse, the cast and crew have bought into the pseudo-profound bullshit pulled out of thin air by their rabid fandom, and they’re far too busy grasping at straws to smell the lingering, rotten stench, or locate it in the hopes of sanitarily preventing any future disaster.
To play devil’s advocate, It Follows is colorfully drenched in periodic atmosphere, tension, and tone. However, this is purely attributed to the spellbinding cinematography and score alone, as the rest is whitewashed. Even these two brownie points become ultimately mute because they tediously repeat with no variation, thus losing their luster. Sorry, there’s not enough wide-angle lenses or ominous synth swells in the world to make up for the asinine storyboard attached. And you really have to don rose-tinted shades and gulp down drugged-up punch to stomach the ill-informed sex-ed undertones, which pretty much boil down to an abstinence-only stance.
I’ve read plenty of puff pieces about how the importance of It Follows shines in revealing the travesty of the loss of innocence. Most laughable was a sit-down with newbie director David Robert Mitchell, where he gushed over the fear of the unknown—while regurgitating the interviewer’s try-hard “insert your own take on events.” To be fair, it’s natural to passionately toil over a perceived bigger picture when an embroiling film comes along and evokes such a reaction. Word to the wise: it’s pretty easy to be manipulated into blindly thinking in that exact fashion towards parasitical jargon that feeds off your excuses for a film like this to even matter.
The solitary not-so-hidden message I derived from this heavy-handed allegory about the dangers of unchecked promiscuity is how gullible and desperate horror fans have become—to the point they’ll lap up knockoff arthouse just because they’re sick of being subjected to bargain bin schlock. It Follows may not be your typical obnoxious, inept, and outlandishly thick smog polluting theaters. But make no mistake, it’s extremely confused, tasteless, and—most troubling of all—irresponsibly preachy. And with the deplorable amount of carelessly tacked on propaganda at every turn, the film’s sketchy over-glorification exposes the cogs in this machine.
So let’s be real here. It Follows is nothing more than a bunch of cookie-cutter college-aged slackers in an anachronistic clusterfuck devoid of parents and set in Detroit, Michigan. Throw in a mysteriously supernatural, albeit unimaginative, shapeshifting entity passed like a disease through the act of bumping uglies with the “cursed” and you have a not-so-groundbreaking idea. The film is basically an after school special rehash of The Ring with a lobotomized plot and apathetic disregard for including a shred of coherency. Not to mention a contrived need to bask in hurling whirlpools of cheap clichés and shock value that both leave an acetic aftertaste.
I might’ve powered through the lowbrow impending doom It Follows conjured up if there was someone to root for. A shame the film’s heroine is an incompetent damsel in distress who is somehow routinely saved by her even more insufferable gang of stock character friends. The disconnect I felt was instantly unsalvageable considering they were solely destined to brush aside every dire lesson put in their path. With their failure to retain any logical line of defense to avoid being cannon fodder, everyone near me either dozed off or cringed in pain during my viewing, as these miscalculated archetypes pantomimed the jumbled display of irregular beats.
The abhorrent pitfalls each scene succumbs to makes me seriously question if all this praise is merely depraved irony. I simply can’t wrap my head around such a bizarro response when the entirety of the film comes off like such a haphazard parody. Every anti-climatic frame longs to be an unadulterated introspection, but can’t escape from underneath the weight of their own unbearable nonsense. I wish I could align with the masses and fool myself into overlooking frivolous B-rated missteps that are nail-biting in an adverse effect. But It Follows is just way too insultingly cocksure with a controversial soapbox, and that’s far from the most unsettling truth.