When I saw It Follows I found there was a lot to like about it. The movie was beautifully photographed and featured excellent performances, great music and some truly unsettling scares. But I had a few issues with the film and the conversation around it. First of all, I think many folks are doing it a disservice by calling it “the best horror film in 10 years” or (even more damaging) proclaiming one of many variations I’ve been hearing on the theme of “everything else is trash, this is perfect.” While I would certainly say that It Follows is better than 95% of horror films out there, I think overly exalting the film sets up unrealistic expectations and denigrates the horror genre (which I actually think has a lot of good things going for it right now). Make no mistake, most filmmakers will never pull something off that matches the quality of It Follows, I just feel that it’s too early in the story of this movie and the world’s accompanying reaction to put it at the top of the mountain.
Another issue I had, this time with the actual film, was with the ending. I felt that the plan the central characters enacted to get rid of the titular “It” was dumb and, at the time, felt like first draft logic to justify a set piece that director David Robert Mitchell had in his head and really wanted to do. After all, why would these kids take all of their typewriters to a public pool to try and electrocute this thing when they have zero evidence it will work (and mounting evidence that it can’t be killed at all)? But was I being myopic in this assessment? Probably yes, as it turns out. Last night I had a conversation with my friend Jeremy about the ending and he urged me to look into the emotional logic of it, that it perhaps is what kids would do in this situation. It turns out Mitchell shares this assessment.
He tells Vulture:
“It’s the stupidest plan ever! [Laughs.] It’s a kid-movie plan, it’s something that Scooby-Doo and the gang might think of, and that was sort of the point. What would you do if you were confronted by a monster and found yourself trapped within a nightmare? Ultimately, you have to resort to some way of fighting it that’s accessible to you in the physical world, and that’s not really going to cut it. We kind of avoid any kind of traditional setup for that sequence, because in more traditional horror films, there might be a clue that would lead them to figure out a way to destroy this monster. I intentionally avoided placing those. Instead, they do their best to accomplish something, and we witness its failure. It’s probably a very non-conventional way of approaching the third-act confrontation, but we thought it was a fun way to deal with it.”
Hearing Mitchell acknowledge this is incredibly heartening and sort of makes me want to go back to the theater and give that It Follows ending another try on its own terms. Looking back on it with this in mind, I’m already inclined to embrace the film on a higher level. By the way if you’re a horror fan this movie is absolutely mandatory viewing. If you’re unfamiliar with it, you probably shouldn’t have read this article, but we’ve still got the first trailer, the international trailer and the second international trailer and Perri’s review to get caught up if that’s the case. It Follows expands to more theaters this weekend.