It Follows (2014)
March 22, 2015 10:53 PM - Subscribe

After a strange sexual encounter, a teenager finds herself haunted by nightmarish visions and the inescapable sense that something is after her.

trailer on youtube,

Currently at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes and 83 on Metacritic

It Follows is David Robert Mitchell's latest film. A horror film that premiered at Cannes, called an "Indie Horror-Movie Phenomenon," "a first rate horror movie," a stylish, suspensful chiller" "like nothing else" that "prolongs and heightens the potency of high school-age fears until they appear to be ancient existential terrors" though maybe " abounds in undigested ideas and dubious sexual politics."

What Makes The New Horror Film It Follows So Damn Good?
So to whom or what do we owe our gratitude for this horror gem? Like with every film, It Follows, which hit theaters Friday, had a talented team working in disparate roles to create one seamless work of art that looks like it born from a mist. But for this one, there were three people who did the most to chill viewers bone deep: writer/director David Robert Mitchell, his Final Girl Maika Monroe, and composer Rich Vreeland (aka Disasterpeace). Here’s how this unholy trinity made one of the best horror films of the year.
It Follows is in wide release.
posted by the man of twists and turns (62 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I liked it. The score was really good, the composer Disasterpeace has a background in video game music and did the scores for indie games like Fez.
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:48 PM on March 22, 2015

The movie unfolds with just enough dream-logic to seem real enough to invest in the stakes while also floating by in a strange kind of haze that you can't quiet explain. The way conversations unfold sometimes have the same kind of slow precision that conversations in Kubrick movies tend to have.

I thought of this when the old woman was walking toward Jay in the school hallway, so at that point I was specifically thinking of the old woman from the bathtub walking toward Jack in room 237, but this has a similar off-kilter nightmarishness to The Shining. It's hard to describe...It's the pretty much the real world, but things don't play out quite realistically. Like a dream it's populated by people you might know or once knew, and is set in places you might remember from your past (like Greg's family's lake house, or the pool where some of them used to go to drink and fool around), but everything is just a little off. From the Onion AV Club's interview* with David Robert Mitchell: "...And all of that is really just to create the effect of a dream—to place it outside of time, and to make people wonder about where they are. Those are things that I think happen to us when we have a dream." That aspect makes me think the movie owes almost as much to Argento as to Carpenter (who is name-dropped in every single review, I think). The way the score can really blast through some of the scarier scenes -- the Wired article above compares it to Trent Reznor -- sometimes makes me think more of "Goblin on synths" than Carpenter's more subtle scores.

Oh and btw, the 7-foot-tall "it" that follows Yara through the bedroom door is a nightmare-image that it's going to take me a while to shake.

* Check out the rest of that quote from Mitchell for an explanation for the "shell" e-reader, which is one of the first things I needed to know about when it ended because I'd never seen a reader that scrolled through two screens like that. I love the explanation, it hints at how smart he is in creating an atmosphere for a movie.
posted by doctornecessiter at 6:42 AM on March 23, 2015 [7 favorites]

I loved that 'it' had a form, like, even if someone it isn't following hits it with a chair or throws a blanket over it, it was actually there and everyone could tell that it's real. I have never really been one for psychological horror, so I appreciated that this was an actual monster.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 8:49 AM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]

I have been dying to see this. I'm so glad it's going into wide release.
posted by maxsparber at 8:50 AM on March 23, 2015

I didn't love it, but I think in the context of dream logic I'm more sympathetic to how it shook out. (Plus the focus on peri-modern day Detroit gave it a lot of atmosphere to complement the steller soundtrack.) The central idea felt kind of half-finished to me, and it seemed like there wasn't a huge difference between Jay & co.'s workaday-life anomie (god, that first scene with Jay in the pool with the neighbor-kids watching was depressing more than anything) and we're-being-pursued-by-an-unstoppable-evil-force anomie.

even if someone it isn't following hits it with a chair or throws a blanket over it, it was actually there and everyone could tell that it's real

*SPOILERS* I know this violates every tenet of the principle of show-don't-tell, but I would've loved seeing some of the conversation that led to the group deciding they were going to try to electrocute a ghost.
posted by psoas at 8:59 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Being on-board with the dream-logic idea early on helped me a lot. For instance, when one of the group died part of the way through the movie, then the rest of them just carry on with seemingly no realistic consequences interrupting the goal of saving Jay, particularly like involving any of them in a police investigation. It was enough for me that Jay looks outside and sees a police car in the driveway, then that's it.

I would've loved seeing some of the conversation that led to the group deciding they were going to try to electrocute a ghost.

It's invisible, but I didn't take that it was a ghost. More like some kind of demon, or like The Horla. They had determined that they could at least touch it and it was solid, so the plan for the pool made a certain amount of sense (except -- a big "except," I grant you -- that we'd seen Jay shoot the Yara-It in the neck and it just got back up and kept coming). But what was the alternative? Even if you pass it on, it's probably just a matter of time before it kills its way back to you anyway. If there's a possibility of a chance to stop it for good, might as well try.
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:13 AM on March 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Also at the pool, It, at least according to what Jay says, seems to have a profound aversion to the water. There is a lot of water imagery. The first girl dies at the beach, Jay is first pictured in the pool, another pool is where the "showdown" occurs, the gang flees to a "hunting cabin" by the water, Paul's idea seems to be inspired when he sees a picture of Jay in the pool. While Paul's idea to some degree fails, whatever he grasped about It and the water seems to have some substance.
posted by miss-lapin at 11:48 AM on March 23, 2015 [1 favorite]

Re: water imagery: Don't forget the dudes on the boat that Jay may have swam out to meet. I really like that we don't know for sure whether Jay met up with those guys, and we don't know whether Paul visited a prostitute after he drove past some...I don't think it matters. Because in the end, I don't think it was possible to escape from "it".

Another aspect that I responded to positively, mentioned in the Boston Globe review:

The remarkable thing about “It Follows” isn’t that Jay absorbs this checklist and is off, terrified and running. It’s that she convinces her friends of what they can’t see. Where most teen horror movies revel in the peer group splintering and getting slaughtered, this one is more interested in how people gather around a loved one and shield her from harm.

Really the only inter-group friction is down to Paul's jealousy (really liked Keir Gilchrist's subtle performance, btw). Otherwise, the non-cynic in me embraced the group's constant solid, caring team dynamic.
posted by doctornecessiter at 12:07 PM on March 23, 2015 [9 favorites]

I think they could have pushed the premise a lot further. Still good, though!
posted by ostro at 2:14 PM on March 23, 2015

I saw this back in October at the Chicago International Film Festival and again this past weekend at the Music Box Theatre, and I'm really excited it's getting a wide release this coming weekend. I think it's great, one of my favorite films I saw last year.

If anyone is interested, I just posted a piece on Medium about the film. It assumes you've seen the movie, so beware of major spoilers if you haven't.
posted by rabbitroom at 10:01 AM on March 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


It honestly never occurred to me to see the movie as sex negative as both male and female characters are equally stigmatized by It (amazingly only two people actually die in the course of the film-one male, one female) but more importantly in order to survive long enough to beat it, the current victim has sex, which I saw as a reversal of the traditional slasher rules where the "survivor girl" is virginal. The victim has to make the choice of accepting his/her death (in this case also reactivating the previous victim's risk), infecting an unwitting victim, or, in the case of Jay, find someone willing to accept the risk in order to help.

We see all three choices play out in the film to various degrees of "success" if we take survival as success. Potentially Jeff's route ("infecting" an unwilling victim and then "helping" Jay in order to prolong her odds of survival) is the most "successful", but at the cost of community. The initial victim dies alone presumably to protect her loved ones, and Jeff is also isolated as those around him (like his mother) don't know about It. The film ends with Jay holding hands with Paul someone she's known since childhood. Although both are still potentially at risk, like Jeff, (presumably), they still have a connection. It seems to want to destroy human connection by assuming the forms of friends and family, how it kills (greg's assault), and the manner It "chooses" its victims. Jay and Paul manage, even if temporarily, to triumph over It by both surviving AND deepening their connection to each other. But then... I think the nature of the film allows to viewer to project onto it, so this probably reveals more about me than about the film.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:47 AM on March 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

This was the best movie I've seen in a while. If you liked the vibe, the graphic novel Black Hole mines very similar territory (suburban teen anomie, almost no parents, dream logic atmosphere, supernatural STD). The big difference is that Black Hole is a 70s period piece, and not really horror.


Whereas as other people have mentioned, this movie had such a weird sense of time. The mise-en-scene was pretty great, and I liked that it didn't get lost even as the action got more intense (in the pool scene, there were still weird anachronisms like the electrical typewriter). Even some of the characters were stereotypes from different decades. Hugh seemed like he was a character from a 90s indie movie, somehow. And Greg, rolling a fat joint in his muscle car, with his ripped-sleeve metal band t-shirt, was a perfect 80s stoner rebel.

I assumed that the last scene was "it" coming back, about to kill both Jay and Paul. There's absolutely zero doubt in my mind that the Paul character was a virgin coming into the movie. And he wouldn't be in danger if he hadn't had sex with Jay.

So this horror movie trope -- a virgin killed for giving into temptation -- actually gets played fairly straight here, except, surprisingly, that it's a male character.

Questions, if anyone has answers:

In the scene in the school with the old lady, Jay yells "Hello" at her; did I hear the old lady/monster say "hello" back, or was it one of the other students?

Towards the end, when they drive away to go to the pool, "it" is in the form of a naked man on the roof. How long has it been standing there? Why isn't it walking towards Jay? Why didn't it try to go through the bedroom window, or jump down onto the car while it was in the driveway? This scene seemed to really break the "rules"; the thing is supposed to be relentless, so watching and waiting doesn't make sense.
posted by vogon_poet at 8:54 PM on March 27, 2015 [2 favorites]

In the scene in the school with the old lady, Jay yells "Hello" at her; did I hear the old lady/monster say "hello" back, or was it one of the other students?

It was one of the two students standing behind the old lady/monster. Jay says "hello," they both look up and one of them says "hello" in response, thinking she was addressing them since they can't see the monster walking between themselves and Jay.
posted by rabbitroom at 7:28 AM on March 28, 2015 [2 favorites]

Towards the end, when they drive away to go to the pool, "it" is in the form of a naked man on the roof.

I am almost positive that the "man" was in the form of Jay's (deceased?) father, whom we'd seen a family photo of not too long before that. I just chalked it up to either Jay seeing weird psychosexual visions due to the stress of always being on the lookout or that there were other aspects of the manifestation that we could only be vaguely aware of.

If not for the deliberate exposition in the abandoned warehouse at the beginning, we wouldn't know anything so I'm not surprised there are more parts that are purposefully unexplained.
posted by psoas at 4:27 PM on March 28, 2015 [1 favorite]


The man on the roof is not Jay's father, it appears to be just some random old guy. "It" does take the form of Jay's deceased father when it appears at the pool, though.
posted by rabbitroom at 5:22 AM on March 30, 2015 [2 favorites]

I thought the guy on the roof was one of the guys from the boat, though after checking imdb maybe not.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 9:50 AM on March 30, 2015 [1 favorite]

So...what was the beginning sequence with the girl on the beach. Who was that?
posted by Brainy at 7:52 AM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


The girl on the beach is also the girl in the photo with Hugh that Paul finds in the porn mag in Hugh's rented/abandoned house. Presumably Hugh got it from someone else, passed it on to Beach Girl, and after "It" got her it came back for Hugh.
posted by rabbitroom at 8:15 AM on April 1, 2015 [6 favorites]

I thought the girl on the beach was Paul's sister (Yara?). Didn't she have glasses?

She's supposed to be innocuous when we first see her in the background, until we're shown that the real Yara is floating around in the lake.

Speaking of people that Hugh killed, that would definitely include the girl at the very beginning of the movie. Until he saw the woman in the yellow dress at the theater, he thought he was still safe (because you'd be insane to go to a crowded place with It after you). He must have thought she'd last longer. I wonder how many other girls he did that to?
posted by figurant at 4:17 PM on April 1, 2015


The girl on the beach is also the girl in the photo with Hugh that Paul finds in the porn mag in Hugh's rented/abandoned house. Presumably Hugh got it from someone else, passed it on to Beach Girl, and after "It" got her it came back for Hugh.

That's if we accept Hugh/Jeff's "I got it from a one night stand" story. Considering Jeff lied about everything, there's no particular reason to accept that at this point he would tell the truth about how he got It. It's possible the girl on the beach was his gf and infected him before her death, it's also possible that Jeff "experimented" on others by infecting them and observing in order to understand It and live longer and the girl on the beach was one such "experiment". We don't really know enough about Jeff to say, but to simply accept his story at face value....doesn't seem particularly wise considering what we know of him.
posted by miss-lapin at 6:34 PM on April 1, 2015 [1 favorite]


@figurant: I was referring to the girl in the opening scene as "Beach Girl" in the previous comment in response to Brainy's question about the girl on the beach in the opening, sorry if that wasn't clear. "It" does indeed appear as Yara when Jay and her friends go to the beach.

@miss-lapin: But if we do accept the "rule" is that "It" only goes after one victim at a time--and its behavior at the parking garage, ignoring Hugh/Jeff and advancing on Jay seems to confirm this--then it doesn't follow that Jeff got it from the girl at the beginning of the movie ("Beach Girl"). Unless two people can pass "It" back and forth by having sex with each other repeatedly, "Beach Girl" would have had to "contract" it from Jeff, who presumably got it from someone else and then passed it on to her.
posted by rabbitroom at 6:53 AM on April 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

I just got out of the theater and I have not been this terrified by a movie in a long, long time. The closet cinema showing it is two hours away. My husband is currently driving us home and I keep expecting to look out the window and see 'it.' I'm going to have a hard time sleeping tonight. The next time I'm at Lake Huron I'll be thinking about 'Yara-It'
coming through the tall grass.

Oh and btw, the 7-foot-tall "it" that follows Yara through the bedroom door is a nightmare-image that it's going to take me a while to shake.

That was amazingly scary. I was nervous opening the door to the restroom after the movie because of that scene.
posted by MaritaCov at 6:36 PM on April 4, 2015 [6 favorites]


Was the girl in the photo with Jeff/Hugh really the same girl as the one who died in the first scene? I assumed the first scene was a flash-forward to the present day (modern cars, cell phone). Although that could just be because Beach Death Girl was richer than the main characters, I guess.
posted by zeptoweasel at 7:27 PM on April 4, 2015

*SPOILERS* I know this violates every tenet of the principle of show-don't-tell, but I would've loved seeing some of the conversation that led to the group deciding they were going to try to electrocute a ghost.

I might be misremembering, but they come up with the plan after the main character sees Greg getting killed by It (as his mother), with electrical arc lightshow.
posted by benzenedream at 10:01 AM on April 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just saw this in the middle of the day in a theater with two other people in it, one of whom was kind enough to shriek at all the correct parts.

I don't do horror movies and all the trailers were all for the most tropey basic horror flicks and I was like ughhh what have I gotten myself into, but you guys. This was good.

Until he saw the woman in the yellow dress at the theater, he thought he was still safe

No, I don't think so. He was definitely trying to pass it along to Jay. He was living in crappy rented house using an assumed name. There's no reason for him to be doing that when he's safe.
posted by phunniemee at 2:42 PM on April 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

Yeah, Jeff/Hugh knew It was after him likely because of the girlfriend's death at the beach.
posted by benzenedream at 7:16 PM on April 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Wow, I hated this movie, and the more I think about it the more angry I get. The combination of the zillion plot holes I probably could have tolerated, but it came across to me as having a repulsive conservative message: not just the overall sex-negative message, but that the seemingly acceptable solution to the problem was to pass the horror off to prostitutes, who, I suppose are somehow less than human and deserving of that fate. I mean, the dude didn't even wrestle with the decision at all. He does the whole white knighting/friendzoned routine and sulks all movie, and then when he follows picks up the follower all we see is in one moment him in bed with Jay and the next he's out there cruising for hookers. Jay, on the other hand, wouldn't even pass it off on those douchey frat-boy types.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:49 PM on April 18, 2015

and the next he's out there cruising for hookers. Jay, on the other hand, wouldn't even pass it off on those douchey frat-boy types.

It's really surprising to read this takeaway. If I remember correctly, we get similar amounts of ambiguity with both situations. When I watched the movie, I assumed that Jay did sleep with one of the doucheboaters. We see her in the next scene looking kind of shifty and depressed, with a water-damaged cast, telling Paul that she can't pass it on to him, and no sign of imminent danger.
posted by phunniemee at 6:13 AM on April 19, 2015 [5 favorites]

I read that as her protecting Paul from it-- if she's unwilling to give it to the carousing boaters, surely she's unwilling to give it to someone for whom she actually cares. And in fact she does eventually turn to Paul but only after the failure to electrocute (?!!) the follower. If she slept with the boaters and that failed to rid her of the follower, then what would be the point of Paul cruising for prostitutes? The only reason Paul was doing that was so he could rid himself of the follower. If you can't rid yourself of it, the movie's internal logic breaks down* and renders the prostitute scene meaningless.

*Hugh saying "it's not done with me yet" was really confusing and to me violated this principle, too. It makes sense to me that maybe you could still see it after passing it, even if it wasn't following you (like how Jay watched it stalk and kill Greg). Although why Hugh would have been able to know this I don't know. In any event I have no idea how Hugh knew as much about it as he did unless he tried unsuccessfully to pass it to many people and accumulated his knowledge through trial and error. And it also makes me wonder why Hugh didn't just seek out a prostitute too, which is the obvious solution for someone who intends to rid themselves of the follower.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:45 AM on April 19, 2015

If it kills someone then it just goes right on back down the line. Jay (probably) slept with a boater to buy herself some time. She was "safe" until it got the boater, which we know must have happened because it comes after her again. It's after the pool plan fails that she sleeps with Paul, and Paul sleeps with a prostitute to buy them both sometime. It isn't done with Hugh because there's no getting rid of it. You can't win. The best you can ever do is buy yourself time. I think it's implied that Hugh has tried and failed at least a couple times, and has learned that the best chance he has is to pass it onto someone and then give them as much information about it as possible, like he did with Jay, so that the next person down the line can delay the inevitable as much as possible.

I think it's less a movie about the dangers of evil sexy sex, and much more a movie about the murky waters surrounding consent.

Isolating yourself, not sharing the information with as many people as possible, doesn't do you much good. Paul sleeps with Jay knowing full well what he's getting into, and they're better armed together as a fully informed pair than either would be alone.

Yadda yadda, something about the inevitability of death being easier to manage when you have a partner, etc. The passage Yara reads towards the end from (what is it, I think it's Dostoyevsky's The Idiot?) backs that up somewhat.
posted by phunniemee at 10:00 AM on April 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

The buying some time idea could work although I missed that there was any real passage of time where Jay had a respite from the follower. It literally looked to me as if it was that very day that they decided on the pool plan. If she slept with three guys surely she would have had quite a few days?
posted by MoonOrb at 10:14 AM on April 19, 2015

It doesn't work like that. You have sex with one person, that person has to have sex with another person to pass it on. So Jay would have only had sex with one boat guy.

The whole movie is set in a weirdly paced reality, so we really don't know how much time has passed, since that one scene or over the course of the whole movie.
posted by phunniemee at 10:45 AM on April 19, 2015 [3 favorites]

I saw this over the weekend and liked it a lot. I found myself debating the prurient technicalities (does oral sex count? what if you screw 4 or 5 people, does it follow them all? only heterosexual intercourse, or can gay people get followed too?), but otherwise it's a great premise and a great execution. You're only ever going to have a movie like this make so much sense, so I appreciated that the director just bought wholly into style with the shifty time period and (as it's been called before) dream logic pacing.

One of the interesting questions that the movie raised, is what's the "best" way to deal with this? Doing what Jeff did and giving the person a fighting chance seems kindest, but there's also greater betrayal there since he feigned loving her (or at least caring for her) in order to get to that point. Doing what Paul did is likely sort of safe, but you're dooming not only a sex worker, but also whoever she has sex with next. To a certain extent you're never safe until it traces its way back down the line. But then again maybe that's what it feeds on? That people will do anything to preserve their self, even if it means ruining another person's life. It's a terrible dilemma.

Visually it also did what I wish more horror movies did: put stuff in the background. Like it sets up the idea that characters walking towards the camera are dangerous, and then plays around with that premise to ratchet up the tension. The soccer girl is a clear fake-out. The girl at Jeff's school may or may not be a fake-out. The boy behind Paul and Jay at the very end is also ambiguous. The amazing scene with Yara on the beach has the audience putting together the wrongness of what's unfolding without using jump-scare audio cues. The scene with Paul and Jay near the end, where it pans out to the window and you're looking for a blurred figure in the background of the shot. Very, very good.
posted by codacorolla at 12:35 PM on April 20, 2015 [4 favorites]

One of the interesting questions that the movie raised, is what's the "best" way to deal with this?

Ultimately, you have to warn them. Otherwise they will immediately die and the thing will be after you again. Even with a sex worker, assuming they pass it on quickly, it will just as quickly work its way back to them.
posted by maxsparber at 12:47 PM on April 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

The best way to deal with it is to have a serial group of fuck buddies each 1/4 of the way around the world. Detroit, Santiago, Moscow, and Cape Town would do nicely.
posted by benzenedream at 11:39 PM on April 23, 2015 [10 favorites]

I wonder if this movie had something to say about racial segregation and the phenomenon of "white flight" in the Detroit area. As the friend group walks from the suburban outskirts towards the Detroit indoor swimming pool, Yara says, “When I was a little girl my parents wouldn’t let me go south of 8 Mile.” Jay says her mom gave her the same warning. And yet what were the most dangerous areas depicted in this film, due to It getting too close? Inside suburban homes. Around secluded lake homes. In quiet suburban parks. On the desolate shores of lakes. Bastions of the so-called "white" community -- NOT necessarily in putatively "dangerous" urban Detroit. Interesting.

Also, the population of metro Detroit today is something like 83% African-American. So where the hell were the African-American characters in this movie? I counted 4 total: 1) Jay's teacher who asks her "where are you going??" (perhaps another shout-out to "white flight"?) when she suddenly leaves her classroom because It is coming for her, 2) The young woman in the hallway who is chatting with a friend immediately following that scene, where Jay says "hello?" to The Elderly Woman in White It, and 3) the 2 police officers investigating the scene behind the abandoned factory where Hugh/Jeff assaulted Jay. The absence of any major African-American characters in the setting of metro Detroit seems like a serious oversight -- and one that is made far too often in Hollywood.

Loved the jarring soundtrack. Reminded me of the soundtrack to Drive.

Along with Yara's retro/futuristic shell compact e-reader, the only other real tell for me that this was set in the present day was Jay's tiny wrist tattoo of all things. If the film were set before 1998 or so, no way would a mainstreamy high school woman like her have believably had a tattoo there - it would've been on the back of her neck so that her hair could completely cover it or it would have been on her lower back, and she definitely would have gotten it in college, not before.

It was utterly and completely adolescent-like of them all, in the sense of having such youthfully-appalling poor judgment, that Jay intentionally passed It to Greg and then Paul, the two guys closest to her - instead of trying to give the obvious death sentence to someone who is deservingly evil a la Dexter, and A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, such as a rapist. Jay could have been the most dangerous person on the street, and none of those assholes would've had a clue. But alas, that was not the direction the filmmakers wanted to take, and yes, it has been done before - but I love it so much.
posted by hush at 3:29 PM on April 24, 2015 [3 favorites]

I almost gnawed my arm off waiting to see this. Now I'm praying they are shooting a sequel; they can call it IT STILL FOLLOWS. There could have been another long hour of movie and I would have ate it up.

This one is so great, even that strange ending with the pool was ok. (Was that high school closed? Why was there water and lights?) The one thing that wasn't clear was just when the movie was set. Was it the 80s? the 90s? Really that clamshell book reader was the only thing out of the uncertain time period it's set in. It was so great that the kids in the film looked and acted like kids.

Other thoughts: I thought the naked guy on the roof was one of the boat guys, now dead. I loved the trap door in the house that Hugh was staying in. And it's quite a reveal that the supernatural stalker can break windows. The first time it happens you assume it's the neighborhood kids who have been spying on her.
posted by Catblack at 7:00 PM on June 2, 2015

I've seen this twice now, and it's without a doubt my favorite film of the year. Absolutely brilliant in a dozen ways.

There's so much to ponder about it, too. Tons to unravel and analyze, and I hope it will take on a new life and discussion once the Bluray is out. I found subtext and important underlying clues in just about every scene. I have some theories of what the movie is about, but none of them seem to fully capture all the evidence and story that I'm aware of. And the director has stated that the question of the nature of "It" (who, or what) has a solution. I'm still not ready to say I've solved that.

I do believe we're given a very limited viewpoint, and we have to do some work to fill in the blanks.

A few scattered thoughts/mysteries to ponder:

-Water is everywhere in this movie. What's that about? The first scene with Jay in the pool seems to be communicating something significant (the squirrel chasing the bird, the ant crawling along her arm which she drowns.) Later on, we see the pool drained. When they reach the pool at the end of the film, the monster takes the form of her father.

-Throughout the film, we see pictures of her father, but he is nowhere to be found. Her mother seems to be shellshocked, drinking wine to get over some unspoken trauma. My theory is that Jay was sexually abused by her father when she was a child, and I believe the family pool was where the abuse took place. And much of Jay's journey through the film is figuring out how to move on from the horror of that abuse. I believe Greg was sexually abused by his mother as well. I don't have a ton of smoking gun evidence for any of this, mind you, just tiny scenes that on second viewing seemed much more important. I do get the sense that there's a distinct trauma to how Maika Monroe portrays Jay from the beginning to the end, even beyond the obvious one of being stalked by a monster. In many ways, she is playing a woman who sometimes still comes across as a shellshocked child, even though she has been navigating sexual experiences for a few years now.

-There's definitely some subtext of suburban white flight / gentrification / etc going on. It's very evident when they drive into Detroit proper from the suburbs. And then Yara's bit about how their parents told them not to venture into the city limits because it was too dangerous.

-Speaking of Yara, why is she eating all the time? She eats twizzlers on two separate occasions, she falls asleep in the car surrounded by empty bags of chips, at the end she's eating a sandwich. It could just be a character quirk, but it seems odd.

-The characters are surrounded by remnants of the past. They watch black and white sci-fi movies, go to see Charade in an old-timey movie theater with a live organist, have old thrift store TVs in about four different rooms, and during the final pool scene there are even typewriters and antique lamps that they drag in.

-Children are everywhere in the movie. They're playing in a few scenes, sneaking glances at Jay in various ways, and there's the scene with Hugh saying he envies the kid who has his whole life ahead of him. One of the forms the monster takes is a boy - I believe we see that same boy as Jay's neighbor later in the movie - he's wearing blue pants and a red jacket and riding on a bicycle.

-Paul and Jay talk about the stash of old porn magazines they found as kids. Later in the rundown house, they come across "Playpen" magazines that look like they could be from the 70s. (Playpen = creepy adolescent subtext, right?) One of the features is "The Sexual Superman... Reality or Myth?"

-When Paul drives past the prostitutes at the end, the graffiti "REGRETS" can be shown in the background, lining up with Paul's face.

-When Kelly, Yara and Paul are drinking on the porch, they're playing a card game. The "Old Maid" card is shown.
posted by naju at 3:12 AM on June 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

Just watched it, possibly a mistake at this late hour. The movie does such a great job building dread in a relatively simple way by having the audience scour every single frame looking for It. That, plus the frequently gorgeous composition, plus the soundtrack combined to make this movie exceptional for me.

I think the titular It works best as a loose metaphor for sexual trauma. You can enact that trauma on someone else and It can ruin their life (Hugh/Jeff with Jay) and you can try to escape from It by having more sex with someone you probably shouldn't have sex with (Jay with Greg), but It doesn't leave you, It just comes back to keep ruining your life. You have to confront It, and you have to recontextualize sex in a consensual, supportive relationship (Jay with Paul), and even then It won't necessarily leave you. Its specter will always be there.
posted by yasaman at 11:14 PM on July 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

I'd never heard of this movie until a few days ago when YouTube started ramming commercials for it down my throat. The ads made it look like very standard modern, probably torture porn-y horror. On a whim, I decided to google it to see if it would be suitable for drunk watching (I do like me some shlock)... My first thought in looking at things was, "What a cute premise. A horror movie where the teenagers have have sex..." But then looking further, and seeing that it got incredibly positive reviews, and furthermore that Disasterpeace did the soundtrack (I was/am obsessed with Fez and most especially its score)... Well. Either alone would've sold me, the two together only sealed it further.

I finally got around to it tonight. And... What a fantastic little horror movie! Jump scares, sure, but not abusive ones. In fact, I liked that in the end they were pretty much all innocuous (the two that got me were anyway). It was incredibly effective at building dread for exactly the reason yasaman mentions, and the manifestations of the It were never not creepy in the way they looked and moved. The structure of freaky chase --> lull --> freaky chase could've gotten tired (see: Paranormal Activity), but they didn't run it into the ground and did change things up enough as the movie went on.

I even thought the "the end?" final shot was really well done. The kids in white (they're innocent once more!), but also black (they've seen some shit). A blurry figure in the distance whose gait could mean something or not. Frequently horror movies go way too hard on the "HAHA, IT'S NOT OVER" punch out ending (it's kinda expected at this point). I liked the more subtle touch here.

And of course I could gush about the score. Will be buying that in the morning.

GOOD (scary) TIMES.
posted by sparkletone at 1:50 AM on July 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

the prurient technicalities

I was thinking about this during the dreamier lull bits also. I have little to base this on, but my gut feeling:

1) Oral counts, anything counts. It's not the mechanical act. It's the residual emotion/human connection that It feeds on.

2) It is genderless (we see it doing all and therefore It's none), so by that same token and by 1 above... Nah. Queer people aren't safe.

3) It goes first, uh, you know, first target. The specifics of how it decides that in a group situation aren't important really. First person the current target gets off or first person to get them off.

4) Once you're in the chain, you can't pass back up except by dying. The "equidistant fuck buddies" thing wouldn't work. This also keeps a bunch of really gross and terrible and rapey scenarios out of the logic.

Anyway, like I said. There's at most circumstantial evidence for any of that, but it's what made the most sense to me.

I'm a little unsettled by how early in the movie I'd settled on the above and yet pleased the movie did nothing to disabuse me of any of it.
posted by sparkletone at 2:37 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Later on, we see the pool drained

Not just drained. It's destroyed. You can tell from the shot from inside the second story of the house but then we cut to ground level and you can see that parts of the plastic bone structure of the pool are just gone.

In the moment, after seeing It on the roof, I couldn't decide if the pool was meant as a hint that the monster was nearby or not. It might've done that in the earlier attack on the house.

I do think the wrecked pool is what made the kids think of "Hey remember [THAT DANG POOL] where we first kissed?"
posted by sparkletone at 2:42 AM on July 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

The cinematography and production design were spot-on. The camera movements really worked and came together with the music to create terrific tension.
The creature changing from person to person was a great idea because you never knew what exactly would be coming. It added an extra layer of anxiety on your brain.
I'm not sure what all the blood in the pool was supposed to mean. I kind of felt like: well maybe it's dead but they can never be positive? The end could have been a little more fulfilling.
posted by starman at 12:18 PM on July 16, 2015

I liked it. The whole movie seemed to be talking about trauma caused by others. After that initial trauma you can't really go back. You're literally looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life, regardless of what you do to try and assuage it. At the end the two leads are walking hand in hand, and there's a shadowy figure behind them. Is that just a regular person? Are they being followed? The horror doesn't come in the chase so much as it comes from the neverending uncertainty and paranoia.
posted by codacorolla at 1:37 PM on July 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

So it seems that It walks at a constant, slow pace -- maybe 1mph. So in a day It can travel 24 miles. The obvious solution is to sleep with a pilot or flight-attendand or long-distance-trucker or jet-setter-celebrity. They could kite It around for years and years.

Having come up with this solution about halfway through the movie, I found it hard to stay interested in the hapless struggles of our main characters.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:14 PM on July 18, 2015

But doesn't It just reappear and change forms? They tried fleeing and it showed up at the lake house. It's not as if it's a single entity that is dated to trudge along behind you; if you're a trucker and pull off the road to sleep, boom, it's showing up on the shoulder of the highway walking toward you again. So much of the film involved the stress of what happens if it comes when you're sleeping and can't simply outrun it.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:40 PM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

No. You're ignoring the rules explicitly set up at the outset. It literally does trudge. Bodies of water won't help. It moves at the rate it moves and you have until it gets to you to deal with the fact that it will get to you.

It changes its appearance to extra fuck with you. It doesn't teleport. It's kind of like what Kyle describes in terminator 1. It doesn't get tired, it doesn't feel things, it just keeps coming. It chooses its appearance just to upset you that bit more.
posted by sparkletone at 9:44 PM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Also, yeah, you could if you set things up kite it just so. Problem: LITERALLY NO ONE COULD ARRANGE THAT UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES. It's not a flaw in the movie. Like. Come on. Think about the level of ~platonic ideal~ you're expecting a disinterested world to not just accept but then stick with. Jay was lucky her amazing friends believed her and didn't flee after the attack at the beach house.

Come the fuck on.
posted by sparkletone at 9:47 PM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sleep with a GIS data nerd. Sorted.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:55 PM on July 18, 2015

(And tell them the rules, of course. So that they could properly parameterize them.)
posted by paper chromatographologist at 9:57 PM on July 18, 2015

So it seems that It walks at a constant, slow pace -- maybe 1mph. So in a day It can travel 24 miles. The obvious solution is to sleep with a pilot or flight-attendand or long-distance-trucker or jet-setter-celebrity. They could kite It around for years and years.

It's reasonably smart though, it doesn't just walk in the direction of its victim. It's smart enough to get on another flight to the same airport, or to climb in the back of another truck, or whatever. It would sneak up on you eventually.
posted by vogon_poet at 10:48 AM on July 21, 2015

I watched it with a mixed crowd tonight. Half appreciated the dreamlike elements, and liked it for being inventive. The other half thought that it was too stupid and illogical to enjoy. One of the complaints raised by the people who did not like it was that the creature occasionally seems to do stuff simply to be terrifying instead of trying to kill Jay. I had had similar thoughts on my first watch (but didn't really care, because it looks so good). However, driving back to my house, I started to put a few piece of information together:

- The monster is stated to be "slow" but definitely not "dumb". The movie reinforces this visually as it effortlessly deconstructs the teens' plan to electrocute it. It seems to instantly recognize what the game is, and toys with Jay by throwing the appliances at her.

- The monster has a few different modes of disguise: someone close to the target (Jeff's mom, Yara), and a horrifying visage (the drowned girl, the giant, the child). It seems to switch between these, and seems to use them strategically. I'll explain why the horrifying visages are strategic to it.

- The only true way to stop the curse is to sacrifice yourself and let it work down the line.

Therefore, the monster doing its job 100% optimally would be suicide. It would eat through its food stock, get to the most recent patient 0, and probably cease to be able to feed or propagate.

Therefore it needs to recognize the smart ones: the ones who will come up with plans to spread it. The smart ones will spread it to dumb ones, and the dumb ones are the ones it will eat it. Then it has to come out of hiding and menace its most recent smart acquisition until they take steps of self preservation. It can do this until it finds another smart one, and then repeat the cycle. By being terrifying but not deadly it is ensuring a continued cycle of food. For example, when it plays with Jay's hair on the beach it insures that Jay not only is scared shitless of it, but also that she has a support network of people willing to help her pass it on to a new piece of the line. And remember, it is a line. It's not a network, and it can't spread off to different branches to feed. It needs people who have the self preservation qualities necessary to spread it to a lot of cattle, until the next judas cow comes along.

The first cattle that Jay screws is Greg. Greg is obviously not the survivor type, so the thing just uses a convenient and deadly disguise: his mother. At the end, Paul and Jay seem to have hit on a decent plan. Paul spreads the disease to the sex workers, and then he and Jay (who both have sight of the monster now) are going to be able to work together to continue spreading it if they catch sight.
posted by codacorolla at 8:54 PM on July 25, 2015 [7 favorites]

So the monster is a game theory prof who pissed off some lover who cursed him? :)

Some of the above speculation about how easy or not it is to engineer a system where you stay safe makes me think this is also a very deliberately blue collar threat. As a teleworker who has friends in different places around the country I could theoretically stay safe forever without ever needing to pass it on. I see it, my laptop and I head out to California to stay with a friend for a while. Some back of the envelope calculation tells me about when I need to start getting worried. Either I leave for the east coast again before that point and keep working my calcs to figure out when to stay safe or I wait for a sighting.

But of course that means a sad no nookie existence (even aside from the sadness of being away from any family). Also it means I am well off. Which nobody we see in the movie is, though they're not poor based on some of their situations like health care coverage and home quality. No coincidence it's set in one of the most economically depressed cities in the U.S. I also wonder if Greg, as the person whose family has a lakefront getaway but doesn't take the threat seriously enough, is some sort of statement too.

I really enjoyed it. The pool showdown was the weakest bit for me but it worked for the ambiguity it allowed.
posted by phearlez at 10:04 PM on July 25, 2015 [2 favorites]

I finally listened to the episode of We Have Such Films to Show You (mp3) were they cover this movie. Like many episodes of WHSFTSY it's longer than the movie itself and they cover the logistics discussion exhaustively. Topics covered include putting It on a treadmill to generate power, trapping It in a steel vault, and a how an evil billionaire might protect himself from It. A comprehensive program for a research institute to figure It out is also outlined.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:00 AM on July 26, 2015 [5 favorites]

The monster was cursed because it was too lazy to walk to its demon lover's lair.
posted by benzenedream at 8:35 PM on July 26, 2015

Bae: Come over.
Him: I can't.
Bae: My parents aren't home.
Him: I'm sorry, I want to but can't.
Bae: I am now a cursed sex demon who must slowly wander the earth murderfucking anyone I can.
posted by sparkletone at 8:44 PM on July 26, 2015 [6 favorites]

I just saw this and I couldn't get over how good it was.

I think the fact it's Detroit, and the fact that the monster moves at a walking pace, has to be significant because I've read stories about the illegality of walking in Detroit, people who go there on business will tell you it's illegal to walk in Detroit, and so on.
posted by tel3path at 11:18 PM on July 28, 2015

I also found it sinister that, at the end, the couple were walking at the same slow steady place as It, were holding hands and dressed similarly as if they were a gestalt entity. It was as if they might have become It. The figure walking at a similar pace behind them seemed to be in either grey, or in black and white as they were. That final image was so loaded.

It's also unnerving that it's left ambiguous whether Jay enacted her plan with the boaters, but if she did then the handoff target was definitely killed. Same with the hookers. I just hope they didn't do that, really.
posted by tel3path at 6:30 AM on July 29, 2015 [2 favorites]

The design of the e-reader is one of the most interesting things in the movie. It looks like a powder compact, which reinforces the stereotype of the teenage girl as fixated on her own reflection, but it turns out she's reading Dostoevsky. Which also turns out to be reflecting their own situation back at them. I think this also ties in with the fact that Yara is always eating, as it's the opposite to the stereotype that teenage girls are always dieting. Yara is more realistic like that, in that she's basically a hollow-legged eating machine.

If the e-reader had turned out to be a phone, which it might also have been, the effect would be the same. The adult gaze sees someone staring into an electronic device and basically thinks of them as isolated in self-obsession, when they're really just as likely to be connecting with friends (or reading).

None of these characters are stereotypical movie teens, really. They're all really virtuous and their loyalty is beyond question (and they don't go on about how loyal they are, either). greg, the outsider, remarks that he should have been nicer to Jay, but he too drops everything to help at a moment's notice. The worst guy by far is the boyfriend at the beginning, and even he can be seen as trying to play the best hand he can with the cards he was dealt; unlike Jay, he got into this situation with no information and had to figure it all out for himself. He's not a good guy, but he's not quite an evil guy either.

Another significant point is that these very young people are always looking back into their shared past and reminiscing about things that happened far back in their timelines. This seems to tie in with the fact that the first version of It to approach Jay when she's alone (in a classroom, away from her friends) is an old woman in a hospital gown.
posted by tel3path at 4:43 PM on August 1, 2015 [7 favorites]

This scene seemed to really break the "rules"; the thing is supposed to be relentless, so watching and waiting doesn't make sense.

They're more like guidelines than actual rules.

I finally saw this and LOVED it. The soundtrack was especially good. The long slow pans and tracking shots, drawing out the tension - we think "fucking snap to her! or it!" but looking around, really taking it all in, makes us wait, pulls us along.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:15 PM on August 3, 2015

I'm not sure it's that weird about the cars, having read that article. It's Detroit, so definitely there will be an abundance of modern cars, but it's also plausible that parts and restoration for vintage cars are also readily available if the enthusiasm's there. My only question would be whether the enthusiasm was there - industrial car towns tend to be utilitarian and industrial about cars.
posted by tel3path at 1:54 AM on November 1, 2015

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