There are lots of reasons to stay abstinent until marriage. One, God likes it that way. Two, no worries about unexpected pregnancies or STDs. Three, you don't have to fret about being murdered by naked supernatural stalkers. Four, the emotional—
Oh, what, you want me to go back to the third point? You don't remember that from the "talks" with your mom or dad?
Alas, Jay's parents skipped over that whole "supernatural stalker" thing, too. In fact, they may have let a great many lessons slip by their pretty, eldest teen daughter, and now she's smoking and drinking and getting heavily involved with a guy named Hugh.
"I like him," Jay's younger sister, Kelly, says.
"Me too," Jay admits. She likes him so much, in fact, that she decides to have sex with him shortly thereafter—a quick encounter in the backseat of his car. And then, wouldn't you know it, Hugh throws a rag over her mouth and knocks her out. When she comes to, Jay's tied to a wheelchair and Hugh is showing her just what sort of post-coital present he has for her.
A naked supernatural murder-stalker.
As Hugh wheels the terrified Jay around, he explains the rules of engagement to her. First, the stalker isn't always naked. In fact, it can show up as pretty much anyone it wants—male or female, living or dead, friend or foe. And while the beastie isn't particularly fast, it's as persistent as a cable-contract negotiator. It'll follow her doggedly to the ends of the earth, and while driving really fast away from the thing can buy a little time, it'll never, ever stop coming. And if it catches you, you'll surely die in a very horrific manner.
But, Hugh tells Jay, there's one way to keep the thing from killing her: Have sex with someone else. Then it'll pursue that unfortunate fellow until it kills him—in which case the monster will again turn her attention back to Jay. And then, once Jay's dead, to Hugh.
And so on. It is, in essence, the most lethal venereal disease ever. If only Jay had held on to that promise ring.
Naturally, Jay's a little freaked when her stalker—unseen by anyone who's still (ahem) unsullied—begins its ponderous hunt. So it's nice that her sister and their mutual friends—Paul, Yara and next-door neighbor Greg—do what they can to comfort and guard her. Also, a girl calls her folks shortly before dying, telling them, "I just wanted you to know how much I love you."
If we don't accept the it in It Follows as a shuffling STD metaphor, that leaves us with the likelihood that it is some sort of sex-driven demon.
Naked, demonic stalkers triggered by acts of intercourse? Yeah, we've obviously got some ground to cover here. First, the nudity: One incarnation of the stalker is a completely naked woman seen fully from the front. And a naked man stands on a rooftop, again seen from the front. The stalker also shows up (twice) as partially undressed women, one wearing a skirt and bra (which isn't in a position to cover much), the other in a nightgown that's opened up in the front.
Masquerading as a teen boy's mother, the stalker kills him by having sex with him.
Jay's frequent sexual interludes (three of which are shown) are filled with movement and moans. She's seen in bra and panties, flimsy nightwear and skimpy swimsuits. At one point the camera examines her as she examines her groin. Teens talk and joke about sex and various sex acts, also porn. Paul discovers several Playboy magazines at Hugh's pad (along with several crumpled-up tissues). While he looks at the pictures, we're shown several women in sexual poses and with exposed breasts. Neighborhood boys spy on Jay, hoping to sneak a peek.
A woman's mangled body is found. After the boy is killed by way of "incest," his gray body is seen on the floor. The stalker is shot several times, often in the head. Each successful shot is accompanied by a bloom of blood. But because the monster is invisible to most, bullets have a tendency to go awry: One friend is shot in the leg. Teens also try to electrocute their unseen oppressor, who throws several small electrical appliances at someone swimming in a pool. A would-be victim is held underwater by the thing. It leaves deep scratches across someone's stomach and drags Jay around by the hair. Etcetera.
A car crashes through a rough cornfield, sending the driver to the hospital with a broken arm and a head wound. Windows and doors are smashed.
Crude or Profane Language
F- and s-words tally in at six or eight each. We also hear exclamations of "h---" and God's name.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Kelly and Jay smoke cigarettes. "Mom knows we smoke," Kelly says. "But she'll cry if she sees it happening," Jay reminds her. Paul and Greg drink beer. Paul and others dispense drinks from sample-size liquor bottles. He takes a swig from a flask. Jay takes a sip from Hugh's margarita. Hugh totes around a partially consumed six-pack of beer on a date. A bottle of wine is on Jay's mom's dresser. Jay takes a pill of some sort.
Other Negative Elements
The stalker, as a half-dressed woman, urinates as she walks, the liquid staining her skirt and dribbling on the floor.
Despite looking like it was made for about the cost of a dinner at Denny's, most critics seem to love It Follows, and at the time of this publication, the flick had a 95% "freshness" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It is surprisingly freaky, what with the eerie musical score and innovative, discomforting camera work. And clearly its makers have aspirations beyond your typical Friday the 13th fright fest: It's not every horror movie that regularly quotes The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, much less on an e-reader that looks like a toy (fitting with the movie's theme of lost childhood), a shell (echoing its ever-present water motif) and a package of oral contraceptives (dovetailing with the sexual metaphor).
But Plugged In will, of course, side with the 5%. All those pretensions aside, It Follows is really just The Ring with sex. Lots and lots of sex.
Even the safe sex/abstinence message is sullied by the fact that once cursed, your only life-saving recourse is to have intercourse with as many people as possible, thus turning the protagonists into promiscuous supervillains. The movie wants us to see Jay as a pretty and vulnerable heroine. But if this young woman encouraged guys to stand on the train tracks and wait for the 9:10 express to hit 'em, would we feel as sympathetic? Yet that's essentially what she's doing every time she seduces someone. Yay, Jay, way to doom all your amorous male friends!
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Maika Monroe as Jay; Keir Gilchrist as Paul; Jake Weary as Jeff/Hugh; Daniel Zovatto as Greg; Olivia Luccardi as Yara; Lili Sepe as Kelly
David Robert Mitchell ( )
March 13, 2015
July 14, 2015