IF copy

A week or two ago, when I was putting together my schedule for TIFF 2014, someone asked me how I could possibly want to see a film from the Midnight Madness programme in the cold light of day. The theory was that a big chunk of what made these films work was the charged atmosphere of the midnight crowd. Well it turns out several of these films have some pretty decent things to say and some pretty good ideas. So even without the jacked-up crowd and past-bedtime premiere, they work pretty well.

Case in point, my selection from Tuesday afternoon.

Shortly into IT FOLLOWS, we see our heroine (Maika Monroe) basking in the afterglow of sex in the backseat of a car. The afterglow is short-lived, however, as the boy she was with knocks her out and ties her up. He does this to show her something; specifically what he has just done to her. What’s happened is that there is a poltergeist that stalks him, endlessly following him and trying to harm him. However, the poltergeist’s target can be passed along…by having sex with someone. In essence, the spirit is an STD, and our heroine has just been infected.

One of the more interesting things about IT FOLLOWS is how still it is for the first hour. After a frenetic opening scene, the film quickly calms down and allows us to get a sense of confusion and fear that our heroine is facing. After all, the problem was explained to her…but she was very much in a state of shock when the details dropped. We might have caught what her date was trying to explain to her, but she sure didn’t. Then again, even if something like this is explained under the most calm and collected circumstances…odds are, one would have to hear it a few times.

“You did what to me?”

What’s interesting to watch is to see how our heroine wrestles with her situation. Considering the terror itself is tied into sex, there’s an emotional charge that comes with it to the sexually inexperienced. What’s more, it turns the genre on its head somewhat, as previously we had seen this sort of terror come as punishment for the sexually promiscuous. Here it is again, but the terror is more aimed at those who are sexually in-tune and don’t want to jump into the sack with the next beautiful person that comes along.

IT FOLLOWS is pretty clever in its construction, specifically in the way the boogeyman has no physical form. Knowing that anyone slowly walking towards our protagonists could be the threat is a great way to make the fear omnipresent…and likewise a way to make us look over our shoulders the next time we walk home from a hook-up…

…if we ever feel safe enough to hook-up again.