For the whole month of October, our own Kevin Stairiker will be watching a horror movie a day and cataloging his findings in a new feature called “31 for 31.”
It can take any form. It can show up at a moment’s notice. Worst of all time, it’s on your trail and it will be until you pass it on to another unwilling soul.
That’s the crux of last year’s “It Follows,” but there is so much more to unpack. I’d previously seen the movie when it hit theaters last March, so it felt right to watch again during a spookier time of year. “It Follows” banks on the power of the human imagination to insert itself into your mind by way of camera angles. Whenever our main character, Jay, sees someone walking towards her, the camera angle shifts to what Jay sees, sharing her terror with the audience. The best (and worst) thing about the monstrous “It” is that “It” changes shapes between regular people, friends or family members. This leads to some of the scariest scenes of the film, such as the old woman on the campus, the bizarre tall man in the bedroom and of course, the naked dude on the roof.
The world of “It Follows” seems to exist outside of space and time, though the details of that are somewhat hidden and come out best with repeated viewings. The time frame is askew, as the TV shows black and white movies from the ’50s, the landlines are from the ’60s, cars from the ’70s, decor straight out of the ’80s and of course, Jay’s friend’s weird futuristic clam-shaped cell phone. You start to realize that the whole movie could be a dream if it weren’t just a non-descript suburbia.
The movie plays with the idea of death better than any I’ve seen all month. When “It” is passed on to you, there is no way of avoiding the onslaught unless you have sex with another person, “giving” it to them. What could have been a poor metaphor for venereal disease is played artfully. It’s shown that people don’t want to give another person the death sentence, but it’s the only way to shake it from the initial person’s trail. What’s worse, if and after the second person dies, the magnifying glass is back on person one. Death ends up finding everyone, one way or another.
Like the best horror movies, “It Follows” spends no time at all getting you acquainted with the monster. The first scene spells it out for you without dialogue, and the rest of the film is spent second-guessing anyone walking in too straight of a line. It stands with “The Conjuring,” “The Witch” and “The Babadook” as the best (thus far) of what this decade in horror has to offer.
By the numbers:
Total deaths: 4
Shapes that “It” takes: 9
Budget: $2 million
Allusions within to classical literature: *2
Number of decades “It Follows” pulls from: 7
*(Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “The Idiot” and T. S. Elliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”)
Total movie death count: 165
Watched via: Google Play
Worth the watch? Yes
Arbitrary rating: 4.75/5 clam-shaped cellphones
31 for 31 viewing list
- Jeepers Creepers (2001)
- Cube (1997)
- White Zombie (1932)
- Demons (Dèmoni) (1985)
- Phantasm II (1988)
- Kuroneko (1968)
- Creepshow (1982) / Creepshow 2 (1987)
- 30 Days of Night (2007)
- Last Man on Earth (1964)
- What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962)
- Cat People (1942)
- The Brood (1979)
- The Fog (1980)
- Them! (1954)
- It Follows (2015)
Somehow, the month is already half over. This is about the time in previous years when the glow and allure of watching a bunch of horror movies starts to fade. This year brought a renewed sense of vigor to the operation, so don’t expect any slowing down between now and Oct. 31. To celebrate just how arbitrary all this is, let’s break down some equally arbitrary statistics.
Average arbitrary film score: 3.55/5
Decades represented: ’30s, ’40s, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s
Decade best represented thus far: ’80s (four movies)
Average deaths per film: 10
Total running time: 25.8 hours
Movie titles that begin with “The”: 2
Vincent Price appearances: 1
Days which featured more than one movie: 4
Foreign language films: *2
Screenings of “A Serbian Film”: 0