Review: It Follows
It’s certainly cheating to re-post an older blog entry (from an older blog), but let’s just use it as a starting point. From a 2011 post series on monsters:
The Thing… represents a kind of monster I haven’t mentioned yet: the doppelganger. It’s a particularly cunning monster, as much psychological than physical. Sure, the doppelganger in The Thing does hunt people, but the better parts of the movie are in the dark paranoia that quickly infests the station.
The doppelganger is a tough monster to pull off, but when done well is extremely effective. There’s Batman’s Clayface, D&D’s changelings, the agents in The Matrix (who can jump from body to body)…
Although the concept of the doppelganger goes back quite a ways, there’s the modern version, I feel, in clones. Unless I’m mistaken, clones are never portrayed benevolently. Even when they’re initially useful (as in Multiplicity), they end up a cautionary tale. (If you’ve never listened to the This American Life podcast on the kindly bull ‘Chance,’ and his clone ‘Second Chance,’ it ends as predictably, or at least as pleasantly, as our kids’ game of throwing rocks. The hopeful farmer winds up gored through the genitals.)
Just like nobody wants to meet their doppelganger, nobody would ever want to meet their own clone.
To this list, I’d add one more example of the doppelganger from 2014’s It Follows (viewed this Halloween). In this film, the evil spirit (“it”) can take the shape of anyone in pursuit of its chosen victim—a stranger, someone they know, anyone that might allow them to approach that much closer. I’m far from a horror fan, but all due credit to the filmmakers for demonstrating the simple creepiness of a person walking relentlessly toward you.
It wasn’t a perfect film—the final confrontation felt poorly conceived (a bullet to the monster’s head didn’t work, so why would a hairdryer in the pool?) and the ending somewhat abrupt. Since the creature functions as the equivalent of a cursed item passed from one person to the next (or as the film’s main conceit, an STD), a more satisfying mystery for me would have been to track back the chain of custody, so to speak. To learn more of the creature/mythology as we go further back, perhaps gather unwilling allies that would rather not be working together.
For a sequel, I would also propose a sort of Build Up tag—where everyone tagged also becomes “it” cumulatively until there’s no one left to chase. A zombie apocalypse. As creepy as one evil spirit in the movie, I can imagine a version with multiple spirits growing in number each time another person is taken. I suppose in this case, however far the original victim managed to pass forward the curse, that many spirits would eventually come back for them in the end.