April 8, 2017

A Brief Review of It Follows

It FollowsWhen I started watching horror flicks in mid-October like I do every year, I was not feeling terribly satisfied with much of what was available on cable. It had been a few years since I had seen any of the newer releases, so I took a look at several best horror of 2015 and 2016 lists I found at several horror-focused websites and blogs. I identified the points of convergence across multiple lists and jotted down some titles to check out when I had the chance. October was over before I knew it, and I got too busy with work to even remember my list.

I finally had a chance to see one of the most recommended horror films of 2015: It Follows. Since it turned out to be the most disappointing horror film I can recall seeing in the past few years, I thought I'd provide a brief review in case it helps prevent anyone from unnecessarily parting with their money to see it. My overall impression of the film is easy to convey. Are you familiar with the Lifetime channel on cable? Imagine that they made original horror films. This would be one of them.

The many glowing reviews emphasized the film's originality. I have to assume that these reviews were written by people who were unfamiliar with the horror genre. Yes, there was a somewhat novel spin here that I won't describe for fear of spoiling whatever limited enjoyment someone might possibly extract from this film. But it was still just a spin on the same themes that have dominated horror aimed at teenagers since 1980. And the entire novel aspect was clearly handed to the viewer on a plate in the first 20 minutes, preventing any suspense or mystery. I can't call anything about this original, but I could forgive that if it had something else going for it. Sadly, it did not.

It was not even mildly scary, had little creepy imagery or atmosphere going for it, utilized almost no special effects, and every one of the characters seemed bored. It had a slightly dysthymic tone to it, but it struck me as more accidental than deliberate. The characters were not sympathetic, and it was difficult to care about what was happening to them. In fact, I only made it to the end because I was convinced that something wonderful must be coming to justify all the positive reviews. The end, like the rest of the film, was a letdown.

The biggest puzzle of all involved trying to figure out who the intended audience of this film might have been. At first, I assumed it must be teenagers. Movies like this are almost always aimed at teenagers. A problem with this theory quickly became apparent though. Most teenagers would see through this one as quickly as I did and would probably not appreciate what could be interpreted as excessive moralizing. I'd stop short of calling it "preachy," but it would have been off-putting to me when I was a teen. Perhaps the ideal audience would be pre-teens and their young parents. It is difficult to imagine anyone else finding it worthwhile.

Other than reading the reviews I read in October, I have not done any research on the film or the filmmakers. Thus, what I am about to say is pure speculation. It would not surprise me to learn that this film was made by evangelical fundamentalist Christians interested in promoting abstinence. Again, I have no idea whether that is even remotely the case. If it was the case, this one would make far more sense.