It Follows: Sex Kills, Very, Very Slowly – Shudder Review (Day 11)

This movie was a critical darling and I hate it.

SUMMARY

A young woman named Annie (Bailey Spry) is killed on a beach after running from an invisible force. Later, Oakland University student Jay (Maika Monroe) sleeps with a boy she’s been dating named Hugh (Jake Weary), but Hugh promptly drugs her. She awakens tied to a chair in an abandoned factory where Hugh informs her that by sleeping with him she’ll now be attacked by a creature that is invisible to everyone but her and can look like anyone. If it catches Jay, it will kill her, then kill Hugh, then so on up the chain of sexual partners. Jay can give it to someone else by sleeping with them. Jay doesn’t believe him until she sees a naked woman walking slowly towards them. Just as the creature gets near Jay, Hugh pulls them both away and drives her home. The next day, the police cannot locate Hugh.

No idea how this happened, given how the entity attacks later.

Jay soon discovers she’s being followed by people that only she can see. Jay’s sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and her friends Paul and Yara (Keir Gilchrist and Olivia Luccardi) try to help Jay. That night, someone breaks a window upstairs. Paul doesn’t see anyone, but a giant man comes into the girls’ room and attacks Jay. With a neighbor’s help they find Hugh, whose mother resembles the naked woman in the abandoned building. Hugh, real name Jeff, explains that he had a one-night stand and found the monster following him. Jeff advises Jay to pass the curse on to someone else by sleeping with them.

Danger approaches in the form of, and at the pace of, a disabled old woman.

Greg (Daniel Zovatto), Jay’s neighbor, takes the group to his lake house, only for the entity to attack Jay while in the form of Yara. Jay shoots it in the head, but it recovers and attacks her again. She steals Greg’s car and drives off, but crashes and wakes up with a broken arm. Greg has sex with Jay in the hospital, but still denies the monster exists. A few days later, Jay sees the entity break into Greg’s house. She follows it inside, but sees a half-naked version of Greg’s mother (Leisa Pulido) attack Greg and have sex with his corpse. Jay flees by car and approaches three young men on a boat.

Greg still doesn’t believe in the monster after it punches a hole in a door.

Paul asks Jay to pass it on to him, but she refuses. Paul comes up with a plan to kill the entity by luring it into a pool and electrocuting it. This quickly fails when the entity just starts throwing objects at Jay while she’s in the pool. Paul, who can’t see the entity, accidentally shoots Yara but finally shoots the entity multiple times, causing it to visibly fill the pool with blood. Paul and Jay have sex, then Paul drives by a number of prostitutes. Later, Paul and Jay walk down the street holding hands with a figure walking slowly behind them.

END SUMMARY

I saw this movie when it first came out, before I read anything that the critics had written. I knew, vaguely, that it was being promoted as one of the scariest movies of the decade, but nothing else. I think it was about 30 minutes in that I started to recognize that I wasn’t particularly scared. It was 60 minutes in that I realized that not only was I not scared, I really wasn’t enjoying the movie. At 70 minutes I, along with several people I was seeing it with, started to openly mock the film. So when I found out that this movie, which I not only didn’t love but actually disliked, was listed among the best horror films ever, I was shocked. I watched it again to try and figure out if it had just been the crowd, but nope, still didn’t like it. However, when I got the prompt “Critically Acclaimed Film that I Hate,” I knew this was going to be the one.

Foreshadowing the pool massively was a weird choice that upset me early.

What’s amazing is that I should absolutely love this movie. It does SO MUCH right that it does genuinely merit some appreciation. 

First, the cinematography in this film is great. So many of the shots, right from the start, are a great blend of style and substance, often hiding the monster from the viewer when we’re supposed to be an impartial observer. The first shot in the movie is an almost 2-minute long-cut which does a gradual 360 degree rotation without ever really showing us anything except for a scared woman running. As a huge fan of long-cuts, I have to say, this was amazing and definitely heightened the tension right off the bat. However, it does it with smooth, slow camera movements that resemble the slow, constant pace of the entity throughout the movie. Moreover, by keeping the monster out of frame at times or invisible at others, we, the audience, never know when it’s coming. Most of the movie frames the shots from between the entity and the target, so we never quite see them both at the same time, making us constantly uncertain. It’s a great technique that seems to take its cues from classic horror like the original Halloween, where we didn’t often see the victim and the killer in the same shot, even when they’re in the same room, until the actual attack. Similar to Halloween, too, there are sometimes wide and rotating shots that don’t reveal any imminent danger, only some potential background threat. 

The score in this also does an excellent job of heightening the tension, frequently having discordant sounds and rising tones at times to suggest that danger is present. Since the monster is often invisible, this constantly keeps the viewer on edge. 

The creature itself is a pretty cool idea in some ways, the unstoppable force constantly coming for you, slowly moving towards you no matter what you do. In fact, Ducktales did a great job with the concept in one episode with the “Bombie,” who just slowly chases a target ceaselessly. It can be taken as a metaphor for many things, but I think most people would agree it pretty well represents the reality of death. We first become aware of it through maturity, which is often connected with sex, or the “little death” that comes with it. It will catch everyone eventually, but we can delay it by connecting with others and finding love (or just banging). As someone who constantly expresses their love for horror movies that use the monsters as metaphors, this should work great for me.

This moment was legitimately terrifying.

So, why don’t I like the movie? Well, because at no point at this movie could I ever stop thinking that the main characters are among the dumbest humans alive. Even by horror movie standards, these kids are dumb. They are dealing with what has to be the most easily thwarted monster since the aliens from Signs that somehow were allergic to water. This creature, while it is ceaseless, follows at a pace that is slightly slower than the average walker. Additionally, while it can break into places through windows, the closest thing we see to any “supernatural” strength is when it knocks a hole in a wooden door after hitting it multiple times. So, it’s a slow creature that could be contained in, say, a bank vault or a big pit in the ground or any number of other situations for potentially decades. Yet, no one considers that, nor the idea of passing it to someone who is headed for another country or the idea of passing it to someone that flies a lot or any other of a dozen potential solutions. Instead, they try to kill it after it was already shot in the head without dying, which is possibly the worst idea one could have. So, throughout the entire movie, even though the film itself was so well done, I couldn’t stop thinking about how easy it should be to “solve” this problem and I started to resent the stupidity of the leads. It doesn’t help that the STDemon concept already comes off as a little regressive, punishing people just for having sex. 

Sure, let’s put the girl with the broken arm in the pool as bait. Good call.

Overall, while I get what the big deal was with the movie, I still can’t stand this movie.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.

Netflix Review – 31 Halloween Films

Originally, I planned on reviewing 31 horror films for the month of October. I then realized that I didn’t start early enough. Also, I’m moving. So, instead, here are 31 films on Netflix. Not all of them are horror movies, but since I think horror movies are inherently in the spirit of Halloween (with exceptions), most of them are. I tried to make them at least somewhat different, so hopefully you get a decent tour of all the types of scares. I’m sure there are some I missed, so leave your favorites in the comments. Also, apologies if some get pulled. I dunno how Netflix decides.

Update: OKAY, SO APPARENTLY NETFLIX IS PULLING A BUNCH OF THESE ON OCTOBER 1. F*CK THEM. WATCH THE LOST BOYS THIS WEEKEND.

  1. Terrifier

Halloween2018-1Terrifier.jpg

It’s a clown. It’s a serial killing clown. It’s a serial killing clown who is smart enough to carry a gun as a backup weapon. It’s literally everything I fear.

*Warning* This movie is pure gore fest and it is genuinely disturbing. It’s not clever, it’s not even particularly scary, but it does have a creepy clown who kills people in horrible ways. This is the most skippable of the movies on the list.

  1. Se7en

Halloween2018-2Blackboard

On the other end of the spectrum from Terrifier is a movie that should unnerve you deeply but has a notably low body count. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are hunting down a serial killer who is obsessed with the Seven Deadly Sins. If you have never seen it, now is the time.

  1. The Babadook

Halloween2018-3Babadook.png

The best monster movies use the monster as an allegory for something. This one uses it as a representation for grief and loss. Denying it just makes it stronger and it can drive you crazy. It’s one of the better horror films of the last decade.

  1. Scream 2/Scream 4

Halloween2018-4Scream.png

I dislike the fact that the only Scream movies on Netflix are 2 and 4, which are neither the best nor the worst entries in the franchise. Still, they’re solid slashers that have an added commentary, with the former mocking sequels and the latter mocking revived series.

  1. Before I Wake

Halloween2018-5BeforeIWake

Kids with superpowers can be creepy. Kids with superpowers they can’t control are even creepier. This movie features a child who can’t stop bringing his dreams, and nightmares, to life, including the “Canker Man,” a recurring nightmarish figure bent on consuming everything.

  1. Children of the Corn

Halloween2018-6ChildrenOfTheCorn

Based on the Stephen King story, this film depicts a town in which the children, motivated by religious zealotry, got rid of all of the adults. It’s corny (f*ck you, I stand by the pun), but it’s also got a great performance by John Franklin as Isaac.

  1. Cargo

Halloween2018-7Cargo.png

In one of the better recent interpretations of a zombie movie, this depicts a family trying to survive in the remains of the world, focusing on them trying to get their baby to a safe place after they’re infected but before they’re turned. It’s powerful and emotional, something you don’t usually get from zombies.

  1. Clown

Halloween2018-8Clown

In a great subversion of the killer clown genre, this movie doesn’t make the clown the bad guy, instead it makes the clown outfit itself evil. It’s not the greatest horror movie in many respects, but the concept is played so well that it still should be seen.

  1. Train to Busan

Halloween2018-9TrainToBusan.jpg

I’m obligated to put this on any list of horror films. This is a Korean zombie film and it is one of the best in the genre. It has as much social commentary as old-school Romero, the action sequences of 28 Days Later, and the character-building of Shaun of the Dead. Truly a great addition to horror.

  1. Curse of Chucky/ Cult of Chucky

Halloween2018-AChucky.png

Child’s Play was a franchise featuring a killer doll that gradually went from kind of clever to terrible to self-parody-level bad. Then, these two movies were released which actually moved the franchise back to fairly clever and somewhat scary. They’re both on, and you should watch them together.

  1. The Babysitter

Halloween2018-BBabysitter.png

One of the better horror-comedies of the last few years, and a Netflix original, this film features a group of teenagers who would usually be the victims in a horror film instead being the villains. They’re opposed by a 12-year-old who finds out their secret and a wonderful comedy of errors ensues.

  1. The Descent

Halloween2018-CDescent.png

Darkness is scary. Being enclosed is scary. So, taking both of those elements and making a movie about women crawling through small caves in darkness while being hunted by creatures was always going to be pretty damn scary.

  1. Hush (2016)

Halloween2018-DHush

In a great take on the slasher genre, this film depicts a killer stalking his victim. The catch is that his victim is actually deaf. To balance out this disadvantage, the film allows her a rare advantage in horror protagonists: She isn’t a complete idiot. This element ends up making it a pretty solid movie.

  1. Let Me In

Halloween2018-ELetMeIn

This movie has a lot to unpack. It’s a movie about the friendship and budding romance between two kids, one of whom is actually a vampire, but unlike many films that try something like this, this movie doesn’t shy away from the reality that vampires mercilessly murder people as a matter of survival. It’s touching, messed up, and has some amazing performances.

  1. Holidays

Halloween2018-FHolidays.png

An anthology of horror shorts, each one based on a different holiday. Admittedly, I think “Halloween” is not the best one, but it was directed by Kevin Smith and features an interesting take on horror clichés, particularly how women are viewed.

  1. The Endless

Halloween2018-GEndless

A sequel to the movie Resolution, which, sadly, is not on Netflix, this film can still stand on its own. It features two brothers who survived a suicide cult returning to the location of the cult, only to find that an entity there is trying to manipulate time to cause the apocalypse. It’s a thinker, but it pays off.

  1. Oculus

Halloween2018-HOculus.png

A movie that manages to screw with the audience almost as well as it screws with its characters, this story about two siblings and an evil mirror is all about perception. Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites give two great performances and the film is creepy and twisted from start to finish.

  1. Hellraiser/Hellraiser 2

Halloween2018-IHellraiser.png

These movies brought Clive Barker’s demonic Cenobites, particularly the lead Cenobite nicknamed “Pinhead,” into the mainstream. They’re basically creatures so removed from human concepts that they view pain and pleasure as the same thing and want everyone to feel both with them.

  1. The Void

Halloween2018-JVoid

It’s a 1980s horror film combined with H.P. Lovecraft. It’s got cultists, mad scientists, tentacle monsters, evil babies, and, of course, the couple that has recently broken up that might get back together if they are confronted with the apocalypse.

  1. The Witch

Halloween2018-KWitch

There are a lot of good elements to this film, but the main one is the atmosphere. This film takes place during the 1600s and features a puritan family as they struggle to get by after being exiled. It’s got religious commentary, great aesthetics, and the entire film just reeks of supernatural threats looming just past the edge of the woods.

  1. (Alternate) The Real Ghostbusters – “When Halloween was Forever (Season 1)” “Halloween II ½ (Season 2)” “The Halloween Door (Season 4)

Halloween2018-LGhostbusters.jpg

Fine, this was originally the movie Ghostbusters, but apparently that’s not on Netflix right now. So, instead, here are the three Halloween episodes of the cartoon. Much like the Halloween movies (which they reference), the first two feature the Halloween villain Samhain (who is the best recurring villain in the series), while the third is completely independent. I’d recommend at least watching the first two.

  1. Extraordinary Tales

Halloween2018-MExtraordinaryTales.jpg

This is a collection of five Edgar Allan Poe stories, each narrated by a different person (Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, Julian Sands, Guillermo Del Toro, and Roger Corman) and animated in a different style. They’re not all winners, but overall, they still capture the Gothic eeriness of Poe.

  1. Haunters: The Art of the Scare

Halloween2018-NHaunters

This is actually a documentary about the modern Halloween haunted houses, haunted mazes, and full-contact terror simulations. It shows you how much effort some of these companies put into these attractions and how crazy some of the people asking to be scared can be.

  1. Raw

Halloween2018-ORaw.png

This is the best kind of gratuitous. When a vegetarian is forced to eat raw meat, she develops a craving for flesh that starts to grow out of control. As I said in The Babadook, the best monster films make the monster an allegory, but this film goes ahead and makes the monster the urges that the main characters are dealing with. See if you can figure out what it’s a metaphor for (it’s not subtle).

  1. Coco

Halloween2018-PCoco.jpeg

Not at all a horror film, this still should become a Halloween film if only because a movie this wonderful needs to become a recurring thing. Taking place on Dia De Los Muertos and in the land of the dead, this film reminds us that death isn’t to be feared as long as we have people who love us, something most children’s films would never even consider addressing. It also makes me cry every single time I watch it.

  1. Murder Party

MurderParty-Logo.png

I already did a full review of this one, but it’s a great Halloween film. It depicts a lonely man who happens to attend the wrong costume party and ends up being the target of five inept murderers. It’s hilarious.

  1. It Follows

Halloween2018-QItFollows

I don’t actually like this movie that much, because I constantly point out how easy it would be to confound the monster in the film, but as an allegory, the monster is pretty solid. Death is always following you. You won’t outrun it forever. But you can delay the realization of that fact through connections with others (mostly their genitals, according to the movie).

  1. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil

Halloween2018-RTuckerDale.png

This movie has Tyler Labine and Alan Tudyk. Everyone should love it for that alone. However, it also is the funniest inversion of the “killer redneck” genre, with the main characters being lovable hicks and the college kids automatically assuming they’re monsters. It also has some of the best horror slapstick I’ve ever seen.

  1. Tales of Halloween

Halloween2018-STalesOfHalloween.jpg

An anthology film that isn’t quite as good as Trick ‘r Treat, this movie still features almost every aspect of Halloween, from the costumes to the decorations to the pranks to the candy to the pumpkins, as the focus of at least one vignette. The best one is probably “The Night Billy Raised Hell,” because it has Barry Bostwick being hilarious as the Devil, but they’re all pretty enjoyable.

  1. Boys in the Trees

Halloween2018-TBoysInTheTrees

This movie was mostly overlooked, but it still is a solid Halloween flick, depicting all kinds of horror monsters. It basically starts off as a group of juvenile delinquents telling stories and pulling pranks, then having to live through their stories in an anthology. It’s basically a combination of The Halloween Tree and another great movie which is right below this.

  1. The Lost Boys

Halloween2018-ULostBoys

One of the better horror-comedies of the 1980s, this vampire film stars both Corey Feldman and Corey Haim (R.I.P.) and features some of the best kid-on-monster fights until it was completely decimated by the glory of The Monster Squad. It also features one of the best ending sequences in film. Just look at that poster, it’s so damned 80s.

I hope you guys watch a few of these. Let me know what you think!

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

If you enjoy these, please, like, share, tell your friends, like the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/JokerOnTheSofa/), follow on Twitter @JokerOnTheSofa, and just generally give me a little bump. I’m not getting paid, but I like to get feedback.