David Robert Mitchell’s “It Follows”

030615.F.FF_.ItFollows2One shouldn’t have to compromise certain elements of filmmaking in order to emphasize others, yet, intentional or not, this is exactly what the writer and director of the 2011 indie dramedy The Myth of the American Sleepover presents in his follow-up feature, It Follows.

Needless to say – but I’ll say it anyway, because it’s my blog and I can do that – the only thing scary about this horror movie is the hyperbolic positive reactions its been receiving. Apparently the majority of critics and genre fans seem to be in too much of a trance from the movie’s “refreshing” approach to even notice that it is a trance in where style trumps substance, and its concept far outweighs its execution. I shall elaborate.

The concept is this; (The rest of this paragraph may contain SPOILERS, depending what you consider to be SPOILERS that is) A teenager must escape a human shape shifting creature by having sex with somebody. Once they have sex with someone then they are free of the curse and the creature will focus its attention on that new person. However, once the person who is currently “it” gets caught/killed the attention then goes back to whomever tagged/fucked them. Think of it as an extreme game of supernatural death tag. Why do I feel like there’s already a game show like this in Japan? Oh, also this creature only walks, so the person being pursued can drive a long distance in order to give themselves some breathing room before having to either run away or have sex with someone again.

Not only do I not have any qualms with this concept driving the narrative along, I actually think it’s quite brilliant, and even led to endless ponders and interpretations on the idea long after I left the theatre. What annoyed me was the inability of the movie to remain in the reality of its unfathomable cinematic universe. It just wouldn’t commit to its serious tone, nor was it playful enough to justify the asinine decisions that all the characters were making – not to mention the emotionless acting in what I would consider to be some extremely heightened emotional situations. It was all I could do to bite my tongue and not yell at the screen, LOOK ALIVE PEOPLE. And speaking of waking up, one of the characters who after having just escaped an attack decides to sleep through the night in the woods on the hood of a car only to then wake up and act as if her life isn’t in danger. Imagine Wendy Torrance in The Shining going for a nap after having just locked her murderous husband in the walk-in pantry. It wouldn’t happen, and if it did, I could guarantee that when she woke up she would still be in a panicked state. I use this example, because like Kubrick’s horror film Mitchell envelops you in steady cam tracking shots, and a gloriously eerie score. However, unlike The Shining, or any other great horror film (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist, The Thing, Halloween, Let the Right One In, etc.) this movie’s so-called fresh camera movements and editing exist without a purpose, thus making the whole affair more of a distracting one than one of fascination. Yeah, visually it’s cool to watch a 360 degree camera pan, but when the use of seeing a particular scene this way adds nothing to the scene then what’s the point? While I admire the ambition to shoot scenes differently then the usual cookie-cutter way in which most films are shot, there still has to be a reason for the outside the box approach. Here there is none.

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