It Follows, directed by David Robert Mitchell, is the super rare horror movie that is about sex without making sex the villain. A young woman, Jay, sleeps with her new boyfriend for the first time. Before she has time to enjoy the afterglow, her boyfriend explains that he is being haunted by a supernatural creature that no one else can see and can take the shape of anyone. It can only move at a walking speed but it is constantly following him and if it gets to him, he’s dead. The real punchline is that he just gave Jay the curse by sleeping with her and now it’s her problem. His advice is since she is pretty, just sleep with someone and pass it on.
In every other horror movie, her friends and family would tell Jay how wrong she was to have sex and how this is sort of her fault. It Follows never goes there and instead her friends and family support her and try to help even though they barely believe her. they try several solutions related to the curse and that means some sexual strategies of their own. This is complicated by some unrequited crushes, family dynamics and a reoccurring theme of absent parents who are either not around or purposely kept in the dark. Kind of like how teens/adults interact with parents regarding real sex.
Meanwhile the monster that stalk Jay is often naked or disturbingly disrobed. There is a theme of titillation as we see a shambling naked woman cut through a crowd of oblivious people. The creature is equally disguised as men and women, and each is equally undressed. It reminds the viewer that the monster kills men and women without discrimination.
There is an STD theme in this story but not much of one. That isn’t an insult, just a statement that you are not hit over the head with it. A stronger theme is about entering adulthood and the lost of childhood but that isn’t presented as some tragic loss as much as it is presented as something natural.
Mostly though, it is about being scared shitless as you are constantly watching the screen looking for anything that might be coming right for you. This is a delight of paranoia and stretched nerves without resorting to cheap jump scares.
This is a movie that could have potentially gone wrong in so many ways but doesn’t. It treats the audience and the woman victim with respect and intelligence. It is a beautiful looking movie that evokes the best of John Carpenter. I feel like this movie is going to become a classic and hopefully will signal a change with the way horror deals with sex.
I give it Five out of Five Pam Griers.