John Carpenter

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It Follows: Sex and the Haunted Girl

Published April 4, 2015 by vfdpixie

It Follows

It Follows (2014, 1 hr 40 mins)

It Follows has been the critic’s favourite since late last year, said to be one of the scariest movies in a long time.  Comparisons to John Carpenter, The Ring and 80’s old school horror have been made, and I finally got a chance to draw my own conclusions about this indie horror darling.

Jamie, or Jay (Maika Monroe) is dating handsome Hugh (Jake Weary).  She finally decides to have sex with him and the act puts her in jeopardy as he reveals to her, in a creepy kidnapping, held-hostage kind of way, that he has passed on an evil, relentless entity to her; it will change its form to look like anyone, come after her with methodical determination for the kill, and the only way to get rid of it is by passing it to someone else through sex.  After the initial shock of this strange violation, Jamie enlists the help of her sister Kerry (Lili Sepe), and friends Paul (Kier Gilchrist), Yara (Olivia Luccardi), and Greg (Daniel Zovatto) to defeat this shape shifting, malignant force.

I want to say a lot about this film while trying not to write 5000 words on sex, death and female sexuality, so this will be difficult, but what I will say is that my initial reaction as the credits rolled was “I didn’t like it.”  I don’t know what scares me anymore, but this was definitely not the scariest film in a long time, and I think the sound bites used to promote the film does it a disservice by upping the weight of expectation.  After realizing my perception of the film may have been forming even before I saw it, I looked at it as objectively as I could, and what I saw was a hauntingly beautiful film with an unfinished mythology.

Visually, David Robert Mitchell delivers near perfect framing, deliberate moody lighting, and slow-paced camera work that aside from the slightly over-used 360 panning which made me a little nauseated, was exceptional to create a dream-like atmosphere.  That matched the origins of the film which reportedly came from Mitchell’s childhood nightmares, giving us a slow, dream-like pace as well.  The scoring by Disasterpeace (Rich Vreeland) was as good as everyone has said, creating tension with that 80’s synthesizer feel.  Using Detroit as the setting was probably a choice based on loyalty for the Michigan native, but it also could speak to the nature of the evil entity.  Was it responsible for the decay of the city, set in an indistinct, throwback era, or was it in its natural habitat and fed on condemned souls in what has become a real and unfortunate Hell for some?  Who knows, as the story left too much room for speculation.

The evil entity was really effective because of the lack of a set identity.  It could be anyone at any given time, and that aspect kept you on the edge of your seat, making it my favourite character.  Jay and company, on the other hand, could not hold my empathy for long.  The performances were great, especially Monroe’s, but for some reason I couldn’t get behind them.  Sure, I wanted them to escape the threat, but to what end?  I wanted to know more about them to invest emotionally.  I will say that it is nice to see Gilchrist on the screen again.  I worked key makeup on a short film he was in as a precocious child actor, and I am happy to see him as a young man showing his talent.  I think he has a great career ahead of him.

In terms of the sex equals death equation that everyone has been touching on, Mitchell does take it to another level, creating an interesting concept for a horror trope and making it more complex than what horror fans are used to:  a punishable act as well as a means to an end.  It’s a curse and a cautionary tale, and one can pull many interpretations from it in terms of female sexuality to moral judgements, which is a win for a low-budget horror film based on a nightmare, however some issues with the plot, like the entity’s origin, put me off of the film as a whole.

It Follows is a lesson in ambiguity.  Don’t expect answers, a defined era, pee-your-pants scares, or a linear storyline.  Think ouroboros, but like, caught in the middle.  If you want to see a film with great atmosphere that builds dread instead of terror, a couple of entertaining jump scares and a S.T.D. (sexually transmitted demon) you’ll want to see more of, check out the film, but don’t let the hype drive you to the theatre.

Pixie’s Cabin Fever!

Published March 2, 2015 by vfdpixie

So once again I find myself unemployed and isolated.  This horribly cold winter and my job search has kept me indoors, inactive and a little insane, truth be told.  Case in point:  a knock on my apartment door last week prompted me to tip-toe barefoot, Mission Impossible style, to the peep-hole of my front door.  Who was this intruder, this interloper who dared to knock at my door, bypassing our lame security buzz code system?!! I saw a small being, hobbit-like, hover by my door, and I heard what sounded like a photo being taken.  That was beyond weird.  Was it a serial killer taking a trophy photo of their victim’s front door? Was it the Tall Man’s minion, come to take me to another dimension? I wasn’t about to find out and crept slowly away from the door.  When my sister came home, she announced that there was a jumbo box of cat litter left at our door.  My interloper was the delivery hobbit from Walmart, and the photo was probably them scanning their delivery.

Lack of human contact and a schedule, believing your cats can read your mind, plus the ridiculous amounts of snow and cold weather alerts have contributed to this pixie’s descent into Cuckoo Land.  After that delivery incident, I started to think about all the isolation horror films where characters-mostly employed-start to lose it out in space or the elements; battling aliens, themselves and unseen threats.  I thought I would do a Cabin Fever post about my brothers and sisters in arms sacrificing themselves, mostly at work, as they fight various terrors or their own mental states (I will however, make a note of  putting these jobs in my “circular file” as I look for gainful employment, for obvious reasons).

My top film for this sort of mayhem is of course, John Carpenter’s The Thing.  A research team minding their own business out in the Antarctic, is infiltrated by a voracious alien life form that hitches a ride in a cute dog on the run.  Imagine being out there in the cold, maybe more than a touch bored,  only to have your solitude disrupted by an alien threat.  That kind of excitement I can do without!

 

 

Alien is the next film on this list.  A crew on their way back to Earth after their space mission makes a stop due to a potential distress signal where they find a heap of alien trouble awaiting them.  So basically, this lot was on their way home from work only to have another assignment thrown at them and end up being violated by an alien.  Talk about your contractual obligations.  Sheesh!

 

 

Black Mountain Side, inspired by The Thing, is about another set of researchers on the brink of discovering a ground breaking archeological find on an isolated snowy mountain range.  When they start to have psychological problems, things become deadly.  Once again, researchers doing boring researchy things in the middle of nowhere are at the mercy of an unknown threat.

 

 

Mr. Jones is my next pick.  A filmmaker and his girlfriend move to the woods so he can work on a nature documentary and they end up becoming obsessed with a reclusive artist who creates disturbing sculptures. This film got mixed reviews, but I liked it.  A case of recluse vs. recluse, it’s basically a story of one artist seeking the solace of nature interrupting another artist’s solitude and paying the supernatural consequences.  Note to self:  artists who live in the backwoods do so for a reason.

 

 

The Corridor deals with a boy’s weekend deep in a winter wonderland.  Some high school friends try to reconnect years after one of them has had a mental breakdown.  They enjoy a laddish night of drinking and re-establish their footing with one another until an anomaly in the forest sends them into a spiral of violent psychosis.  This time no one is working, merely trying to relax with their friends and they end up getting scalped, among other nasty things.

 

 

To round it all up, I’ll give Mother Nature the final word, because she going to have it whether we like it or not.  The Day After Tomorrow, which sounds like my West Indian uncle’s promise to return a drill, kicks our butts with some hard-core, extreme and devastating weather.  When a paleoclimatologist warns against a catastrophic event caused by global warming, he is at first ignored, but when the snow hits the fan, he races to save his son and other survivors as North America hightails it to Mexico.  While we are not near this type of disaster (yet), it sure as heck feels like Spring has tapped out this year.

 

The moral of this post?  Well, I’m still not answering my door if you haven’t been invited over, but I will take heed when heading out to an isolated cabin in the winter or deep space, maybe just get some fresh air to clear my head and go for a walk in a highly populated area with a decent coffee shop instead, and perhaps apply for a more, um, “people person” job…

 

 

 

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