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The F*cking Black Sheep: It Follows (2015)

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We’re hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

IT FOLLOWS (2015)

DIRECTED BY DAVID ROBERT MITCHELL

“It doesn’t think. It doesn’t feel. It doesn’t give up.” I can’t really tell if this is merely the tagline for villain of the wildly overrated 2014 horror phenomenon IT FOLLOWS, or if it doubles as a descriptor for the substance of the movie itself as well. Why can’t I tell? Simple. IT FOLLOWS is a mindless, nihilistic, droning horror movie that, perhaps as a result of the soft bigotry of low expectations (for U.S. horror), has been ridiculously apotheosized as one of the best American horror movies in years. Straight up…that assertion is hogwash. Balderdash. Falderal. Poppycock. Let me tell you why…

In the past four years, as many movies have ascended to unanimously praised modern horror classics. These include THE BABADOOK, THE WITCH, IT FOLLOWS, and this month's release of HEREDITARY. All four of these films have amassed whopping favorability numbers among critics and casual horror fans alike, with THE WITCH and IT FOLLOWS tallying 83/100 Metascore ratings, THE BABADOOK scoring a 86/100 and HEREDITARY an 89/100. All four films float in the same qualitative boat, according to the moviegoing masses. But here’s where things veer quite drastically. THE WITCH and THE BABADOOK, both of which came with the loftiest of expectations and most positive word of mouth, absolutely and unequivocally lived up to the hype. At least, personally speaking. I went in to both of those movies with such an unfair amount of expectation, and still…still, both movies still rocked the f*ck out of my heart and soul. IT FOLLOWS, by comparison, fell flatter than J.R. Smith in game f*cking 1!

We have your attention? Good, we’re just getting started. Allow us to tell you in greater detail below why IT FOLLOWS is a ludicrously overhyped F*cking Black Sheep!

Before the lambasting begins, let’s laud what does work in IT FOLLOWS. No joke, the overarching metaphor of a sexually transmitted disease being a relentless, inescapable, unshakably shaming, villainous guilt-festering shadow is an inspired one. It really is. And technically speaking, the movie’s exquisite. Credit where it’s due: the flick boasts some nifty camerawork, undeniably strong imagery, impressive wide-angle framing redolent of early Romero and Carpenter, some coolly stylized lighting rigs, a screeching score and a decent turn or two (namely from Miaka Monroe). This is no affront to the craftsmanship; it’s a direct indictment of the dimwitted diegesis.

The chief problem with IT FOLLOWS is that, in depicting such murderous metaphor, not a single scary moment is to be found throughout the film. Not one. Spare me the so called fright of seeing a stranger slowly lumbering toward you, a la the risible old lady in the beginning of the film, or really any instance when “It” sluggishly, stoically approaches. This kind of “terror” would not have frightened me when I was eight years old, much less as a callously desensitized hardcore horror head. Come on, this may stir the constitutionally weakest of casual horror fans, but true genre aficionados have been so well inured to that monastic mode of terror (mainly due to Meyers and Voorhees) that it can hardly be taken with anything other than an eye-rolling sneer. That early stint of grandma strolling across the lawn is almost as laughably asinine as THE HAPPENING. It’s that ineffectively awkward. So too is the random nude follower who suddenly materializes on the rooftop toward the end of the film. Need more? How about the second time It materializes, now as a urinating, uni-socked abuse victim? Yeah, it comes across on-screen as silly as it sounds. Still not done? What about when a Tall Man with sunken eyes appears right behind Yara upon bedroom entry? Oooh…I’m f*cking quaking!

By contrast, THE BABADOOK, also a grand metaphor, this one about the sleep-deprived anxieties of motherhood, is by leaps and bounds far scarier in its metaphorical depiction. It’s not even close. Even despite the ungodly expectations, THE BABADOOK had three, four or five legitimate hair-raising chills. IT FOLLOWS has three, four or five brow-raising frills!

But let’s backtrack a bit. IT FOLLOWS chronicles the exploits of Jay Height (Monroe), a sexy blonde teenager who hangs around the suburbs with her sister Kelly (Lili Sepe) and friends Greg (Daniel Zovatto), Yara (Olivia Luccardi) and Paul (Keir Gilchrist). When Jay gets busy in the backseat of a muscle-car with a hunky dude named Jeff (Jake Weary...apt as my nom de plume for this article), her life gets upended in a quick hurry. Waxing post-coitally, Jay is gagged with chloroform. When she comes to, she’s bound to a chair in only her bra and panties. Jeff tells her that he passed something on to her, something that will follow her and attempt to kill her. It could like anyone, a stranger or a close relative. The only way to get rid of it is to have sex with someone else and pass it on to them. If It kill the person you pass it onto, it reverts back to you. Unfortunately, IT FOLLOWS dies by its own set of indolently established rules, and does so through its failure to properly maintain them.

For example, if It only follows those who are infected, how on Earth can those uninfected inflict harm on it? This makes no logical sense. And yet, in perhaps the most anticlimactic denouement in any unanimously praised horror film, this is what precisely transpires. Despite never being in contact with It, Paul is able to shoot the entity dead. Worse, this comes amid some horrid CG, as the action devolves into a lame ass ghost-story where it shifts from being visible, then invisible, then topped with a goddamn bed-sheet in order to look like Barbara Maitland in BEETLEJUICE so Paul can plug it with a slug. Shite’s stupid.

Or even before that, what about the deal with Jeff? How is this guy still able to see it even after passing the curse on to Jay? He says the only way to rid it is to sleep with another and pass it off, which he does, and yet, he’s still afflicted? Even if the visual representations of It were at all scary – which they are not – they’d fall victim to the very rules lazily established by David Mitchell. Actually, Mitchell almost admits as much in a monologue he gives Yara at the hospital in the end. To paraphrase, she basically says the terror comes not from the actuality, but the anticipatory dread of the actuality happening. There’s a morsel of truth here, but it’s not executed in IT FOLLOWS.

Look, it’s not that IT FOLLOWS is a horrible movie, it’s just that it nowhere nears deserves to occupy the same rarified air as THE BABADOOK, THE WITCH and now HEREDITARY. It simply doesn’t measure up. Even outside the comparisons, IT FOLLOWS falls victim to its own set of rules, and perhaps worse, isn’t very scary in doing it. Let’s hope this cat Mitchell’s new flick UNDER THE SILVER LAKE was pushed back six months for Oscar contention rather than studio aversion. Either way, IT FOLLOWS is an overblown Black Sheep!

STREAM IT FOLLOWS HERE

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Extra Tidbit: What are your thoughts on IT FOLLOWS?
Source: AITH

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