It Follows

It Follows ★★★★

It was an interesting experience watching It Follows right on the heels of 1979’s The Visitor. While both borrow from films that came before them, The Visitor seemed nothing more than a mash up; a collection of best parts of the past stitched together with some profound weirdness and a Space Jesus thrown in. It follows never felt like it was appropriating the past, nor paying homage to it; it didn’t even feel like it was really influenced by the past, but the resemblances are there, almost like an echo.

What I loved in particular, and what I thought brought all of these echoes from the past together in such a compelling way, was the films refusal to commit to a time period. Most of the vehicles, 70’s classics; The black and white portable TV perched atop a late 60’s tube-chassis RCA colour .. a sight not uncommon back then during the not too infrequent cases when the set went out, and you were awaiting a call from the friendly house-visiting TV repair man, and the unspecified future of the ‘clam shell’ e-reader, which points in both temporal directions.

Horror feeds on raw emotion, yet jump scares and hair-raising violin-chirping, nail-biting, run-for-your-life scenes were almost completely absent; rather the horror was the uneasiness of the relentlessness and seeming inevitability of all it all. It wraps with this the fears of the next stages in life that adolescence brings. One of the most telling and true scenes for me was when Jay escapes on a bike to a park playground. Sitting on that swing was safe. You know she sat there a thousand times before growing up. Riding your bike and swinging on the swing returned her to the safe bubble of childhood. A place of happiness where nothing bad could happen.

Growing up, one of my Son’s best friends, one of our country neighbours, was a girl a year older than him. She moved away when she was 12. In the previous six years she was always over at our place, and one tradition was the annual Easter egg hunt. I was surprised to get a call from her the following Easter to see if she could come over for the hunt. Of course this could be attributed to a sense of tradition, or more likely, free chocolate; but no, I think it was something else. The look in her eyes, and the way she and my Son gleefully hunted the bunnies like the kids they were from years gone past, that it was something more. A return to a simpler time for a girl living in a new house, in a new town, and just entering puberty.

It was feelings like that wanting to cocoon; to retreat to a place of comfort and safety, that really made It Follows a success in my eyes, as there’s nothing scarier than life itself, and life itself is relentless.

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