What is it about sex and death in horror? It seems to be a theme the gets done over and over again. Either it’s teenager having sex and being murdered for it, people having sex while someone’s being killed (because we’ve all had sex that loud at least once in our lives) or the girl who doesn’t have sex surviving at least until the end.
It Follows at least makes and attempt to do something fresh with is. Meet Jay, played by relative unknown Maika Monroe. She’s just met this great guy named Hugh (Jake Weary who played Cyrus Petrillo in Pretty Little Liars). Hugh is so great that when he gets really weird at the movies on their first date Jay’s reaction is to have a second date with him. Because that happens all the time, am I right ladies? And that second date must have been amazing (which wouldn’t be hard if you compared it to the first date) because the next scene is Jay screwing Hugh’s brains out in the back of a car. Happens all the time, right guys? Just as the sex ends Hugh chloroforms Jay and when she wakes up he has her tied to a chair. He explains that he passed on a curse and it will cause this thing to follow Jay where ever she goes. It will always come in a straight line, it will always walk so it’s kinda-sorta easy to get away from and Hugh tells Jay to never let it catch her. If it catches her it will kill her then hunt down the one before her, which is Hugh. As proof of this he shows her a naked lady slowly walking towards them. Before the naked lady can get too close Hugh cuts the ropes holding Jay in place, takes her to his car and dumps her in front of her house. So begins one of the weirdest chase movies on the planet.
There are a few things to like about this movie. First of all they did not stick with the “no one believes the monster is real” bullshit most horror movies tend to go with. Her friends get actual proof that Jay is being pursued by this invisible thing, and act accordingly. Secondly it turns the whole “girl won’t have sex with the nice buy who clearly likes her” on it’s head as Jay has a serious reason not to do that, because she does not want the nice guy to be murder in her place. Also they friends do some pretty intelligent things to try to defeat the thing following Jay. They do not mess around, and they do not play the “I saw this totally weird and crazy thing happen but I’m going to spend the whole movie denying this thing exists.” They take action. Sometimes not the best action but if you’re going to believe 20-somethings are supposed to be teenagers, at least have them act like teenagers.
This is not a slasher movie. While there are deaths, the deaths are not the focus as in your typical torture porn or 1980’s horror remake. The “thing” was interesting but I’m not one who likes that it’s never really explained. I like my monster to come with an instructional manual with a clear set of “how to kill it” proceedures. What made this monster interesting was it would show no interest in anyone else but it’s prey unless someone literally got in it’s way.
The movie also had what barely passed for a budget so some of the camera work and lack of effects can be forgive.
What I did not like about the movie was some of the dialog. It just felt “hip to be hip” for my tastes. Also Jay and her crew looks for Hugh, finds him but no one has at “I’m going bat you around like a kitten’s chew toy, asshole” reaction to Hugh when they found him. I would have run him over three times if I caught up with him. As I said above, I wanted more of an explanation of what the things was. Jay does an Internet search but it goes no where. They could have had the book nobody’s ever heard of, or a series of weird murders leading to a pissed off gypsy or that one guy/gal who knows what it is and is prepared with exposition of how to fight it, or at least live with it coming after the people who pass it one like AIDS. Anything would have done. I especially do not like ambiguous endings. Either beat the monster or have it bite the lead actor’s head off. I’m just not with the artsy style of artsy endings. One of the things that bugged me the most was Jay made a point of saying she did not want to sleep with the nice guy, Paul (Keir Gilchrist known for playing Marshall Gregson in United States of Tara) but readily sleeps with Greg (Daniel Zovatto form Laggies, Revenge and and blink-or-you’ll-miss-him part in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.). Later she’s ready to swim out to a bunch of guys in a boat and let them have a turn. Then at the very end she decides to sleep with Paul after all. There was just no clear logic with her thinking on these decisions, other than “I have to get rid of this thing.” I just wasn’t feeling her urgency in the matter other than as a plot in the movie.
It Lives was a bad little movie but it did not exactly wow me either. I’ll give it credit for more than a little originality but over all it did not exactly knock my socks off.