I saw an article a few weeks ago called “Stop Saying It Follows Is About STDs,” or something to that effect. And then this past week, Quentin Tarantino brought up It Follows in an interview, about how much he liked it, but also some notes he had (“He broke his mythology left, right, and center.”). It Follows director David Robert Mitchell even responded to QT, saying he had some notes of his own.
The point is, six months after the fact, people are still talking about It Follows. It’s that kind of movie, which is exactly why I thought it was so good. I even overheard a couple arguing about it at a bar the other day, which hardly ever happens with movies anymore.
Everyone’s allowed their own interpretation, and I’m not usually a “but what does it really mean” kind of a guy, but in the case of It Follows, I do have a specific interpretation that I’m pretty fond of. I was reading Domingo Martinez’s memoir The Boy Kings Of Texas (great, btw) the other day, and I came across a passage (about one of Martinez’s friends that ends up getting killed by a drug dealer) that felt to me like the perfect parallel:
Albert had an eye for the cutesy Mexican girls of the area, and they certainly had one for him. In Brownsville, the drug dealers have a severe “madonna versus whore” issue, which is really quite dangerous. Mexican girls with angelic faces are revered as dainty princesses and auctioned off to the most virile and competent dealer, known by the flashiest truck and the bloodiest sinus, even at, say, fifteen years of age.
As a young man, if you had any sense of self-preservation, you would stay far away from these girls, because they were considered untouchable and reserved for the next available son of a drug dealer who would fall in desperate love upon laying eyes on her, and then beat them in public for talking to another boy, later. These were not people accustomed to rational resolution of grievances.
Because, even if you listened to the cries for help from atop the pedestals where these girls were kept, and even if your motives were pure — and let’s be honest, they never were — the lionized male children of drug dealers were totally incapable of understanding how to treat their women with the respect of an equal […] so these pretty girls were left lonely, isolated in their dangerous native beauty.
Obviously, this is from a memoir about growing up in Brownsville, Texas, and It Follows is a horror movie set in Michigan, so any connection is purely my own (and David Robert Mitchell is more than within his rights to one day tell me I’m full of sh*t). But I think the theme is the same. It Follows to me wasn’t about STDs, per se, or about abuse (not specifically, though it’s closely related, and one could surely write a thesis about how it relates to “the male gaze,” if one were so inclined). It was a horror movie where sexuality itself was the supernatural terror – the demon, the uncontrollable (or perhaps more accurately, how people deal with that sexuality is the demon). It was a story about how terrifying sex can be to an adolescent, without itself being anti-sex. A lot of horror movies use sex (damned near all of them), or at least titillation. It Follows was one of the first that felt like it was actually about sex.
Anyway, that’s my two cents.