Film Review : It Follows (2015)

IMDB Score – 7.6
Rotten Tomato Score – 95%

Directed By – David Robert Mitchell
Starring – Maika Monroe, Keir Gilchrist, Lili Sepe, Olivia Luccardi, Jake Weary, and Daniel Zovatto

A young woman is followed by an unknown supernatural force after getting involved in a sexual confrontation.

*Insert STD joke that everybody seems to be making here*

There. Now that THAT’S over with…

I feel the need in every horror review I write to point out that modern horror movies are hard to do correctly. First off, studios have trouble greenlighting a lot of horror films because the great ones almost HAVE to be rated R and rated R films hurt box office sales. If your film does get on its feet, then it’s got to be pretty unique or else it’s going to come off redundant and stale. As of late, there has been an almost “rebirth” of 80’s style horror/thriller films that take simple premises and make them unique with style, atmosphere, and callbacks to horror classics of the 70s and 80s. Films like Drive, House of the Devil, The Guest, Cabin in the Woods, and The Innkeepers have done unique things with either tired tropes or dated plot devices. Cabin in the Woods did this perfectly and then spun us onto our head with the 3rd act. House of the Devil fully embodied an 80’s slasher flick. The Innkeepers took a typical ghost story and through atmosphere and brilliant camera work, made it unique and special. That being said, I’ll always respect and applaud films that try to do something different, or try to spice up something familiar. It Follows is a film that I respect, am intrigued by, but am left wishing it gave me a little bit more.

The film has a relatively easy premise. Whoever has “it” is followed by people, seemingly random people, and if they are caught, they die. They have to sleep with somebody and then “it” gets passed along to that person and the chain continues. If that person dies, “it” goes back down the chain of teenager sex until nobody is left. The followers only walk, and can’t be seen by anybody else. Off the bat, that’s a creepy premise. We all have been walking home late at night and notice that somebody is walking behind us. Even if that person is harmless, the sense of unease is there. So an entire film based on random people coming for you dead eyed at all hours of the night scares the shit out of me. I was disappointed though, not so much with the film, but rather by own self. You see, I wasn’t scared, not once, throughout the whole film. Save for one scene, I was watching this film no differently than I would watch a Pixar film. I guess the suspense just didn’t grab me or some outside forces from the day just numbed me to being scared but I just honestly wasn’t tense at all. I did however appreciate how one could find this suspenseful. They certainly did a good job keeping the camera flowing at the right places and still at others. There were many 360 pan shots that revealed some horrible thing or a stagnant show with something coming closer in the distance. I liked that. The film is well made. I just didn’t really get it.

Like I alluded to earlier, the film definitely paid tribute to classic films and directors. The score, which was amazing by the way, is straight from Carpenter himself. The night shots and horror scenes look like they were shot by Wes Craven. Hell, I was even reminded of The Shining a couple times when a scene would concludeand I was left scratching my head as to what the hell I just saw.

I think that’s what is eating at me with this film. It’s not as if I didn’t like it. I liked it plenty. I just didn’t get it enough to really love it. It’s a film that could definitely change my opinion of it over time, but I’m just not there yet. It’s flawed. The 3rd act was kind of a let down. There wasn’t a satisfactory end. Ambiguous is fine, but I needed a little bit more from it before it ended, which it abruptly did. There seems to be a lot of underlying themes that have NOTHING TO DO WITH FUCKING STDS that I just can’t seem to grasp. Is the film about relationships? We have Jay, a girl, played by Maika Monroe, running away from “it” while her friend Paul, played by Keir Gilchrist, is only trying to get closer to her. I enjoyed this dynamic. Is the film about the youth of adolescents? Are these kids literally running away from death which is slowly inching its way towards them? Like I said, “it” walks very slow. Whatever the main theme is, it’s not obvious, which both excites me and frustrates me. I like challenging films. I also like to figure things out. I haven’t figured this one out yet.

You should see the film. Why? Maybe you’ll understand it more than I did. If you’re a horror fan and have been waiting for a unique film that hasn’t been done before, then go see it. It’s a stylish film that does something completely different. Michael Meyers may have started the slow walk killer thing, but this film takes it to another level. I’ll always pay to see films like this. I love ambition. I just may not always get it. I need to watch this again.


Film Review : You’re Next (2013)

IMDB Score – 6.6
Rotten Tomato Score – 74%

Directed By – Adam Wingard
Starring – Sharni Vinson, Nicholas Tucci, Wendy Glenn, AJ Bowen, Joe Swanberg, Amy Seimetz, Ti West, and Rob Moran

When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.

The genre of horror is a lot like chicken. I see chicken on a menu and I go “yeah, I’ve pretty much had enough chicken in my life, lets try something else”. However, there are still some wonderful chicken dishes out there in the world. Every couple years a few films get released that try to do something different that what everybody else is doing. Even the ones that don’t land as well as they should are still usually credited with striving to be unique. Chicken doesn’t have to be done the same way. It can be either generic or unique. Would you like me to stop making this awful chicken reference? Okay, you’re right. It was bad and I should be ashamed but I’m going to leave it in because this is America and I can make bad chicken analogies if I want. Moving on.

I enjoyed You’re Next. I enjoyed it enough to stick through a really awful middle act to get to the more interesting and entertaining final third of the film. The film centers around a family reunion in an old house in the middle of the woods. We have seen this film probably a million times. However what we haven’t seen is a horror film totally be in on its own joke and create a new experience. I know that “Cabin in the Woods” was a similar film where the comedy and satire of the horror genre is on full display and while I loved that film it was very obvious to the viewer what was going on. With “You’re Next”, you’re not entirely sure if what you’re watching is supposed to be dark humor or horrible crafted straight horror. I looked at it as a comedy. Not a very hilarious comedy but one that should be enjoyed without sniveling and complaining on how ridiculous the actions of the actors on screen are.

The middle of the film almost lost me. It took me a long time to get what was going on and that I should be enjoying the ride instead of constantly rolling my eyes at the decisions being made by these characters. The whole way the attack on the house begins makes the viewer believe what they are seeing is cheese in its smelliest form. However when giving the film time to breath and come to fruition, the gist of what Adam Wingard and screenwriter Simon Barrett are trying to accomplish starts becoming clearer. I really enjoyed the final third of the film but can’t go too far in explanation in order to avoid spoiling key moments in the film.

Besides the creative writing, the camerawork from director Adam Wingard was particularly impressive. While nailing traditional horror techniques such as villain POV and quick gore cuts, Wingard also uses a unique filming style, particularly in the films for dark lighting scenes, that give a viewer a new way to be scared. Use of camera flashes and old fashioned jump scares were earned instead of coming off cliche and tried.

Overall I liked the film. I like when horror movies try to think outside the box and take old used ideas and settings and try to create something new. It’s like wrapping chicken in bacon and putting ice cream on top. Is it good? Well, shit, that’s sounds like it would be. I’d eat that. I don’t know about you. Even if it wasn’t delicious, at least it isn’t the same of bland piece of meat resting on an equally bland slop of potatoes.

I’m going to work on my analogies.