During sleepovers, many of us are told the weirdest of stories. Some are about ghosts, others could describe our future, while the rest are just the typical friendship dramatic tales. But if I had been told a story that was anything remotely similar to the horrors that occur in It Follows, I would have run out the door and called my mom for a ride home ASAP.
WARNING – SPOILERS AHEAD
THIS PIECE IS MY OWN PERSONAL INTERPRETATIONS OF THE MOVIE, AND NOT FACT.
The film tells the story of Jay (Maika Monroe), a bright and beautiful teen whose life drastically changes after having sex with a mysterious guy named Hugh. He informs Jay, post intercourse, that he has passed on a curse to her. This curse has no real rules, no back story, other than the simple bare bones facts:
” an entity which can only be seen by those with the curse, and can take on the appearance of any person, will follow Jay at walking pace. If it catches her it will kill her and pursue the previous person to have passed it on. “ (SOURCE)
Though to many this seems like an easy fix, It Follows does not deal its cards so simply. In fact, the film is full of vague statements, ones that usually would drive a viewer crazy, but when put into the right hands, can help elevate the material past the usual tropes of the genre, and become an important piece of entertainment. It Follows definitely qualifies for those sorts of compliments, but only if you are able to grasp what many of the moments presented in the film truly mean.
The Curse and Its Meanings – Visually
First, beyond going into the specifics, it is best to know another important rule regarding the curse. According to Hugh, it can take on the appearance of someone that is familiar to the person being followed. Now, during first viewings, most will disregard this notion and not stop to think who these people could be to the person under the curse. What is the significance of them seeing this specific person?
Based on what you will read below, I can’t help but feel that most (if not all) of the people seen by Jay and the other cursed teenagers, are somehow related to past, present, or future sexual experiences in their lives. From people that have been a threat, a crush, a fear–anything related to their sexuality is explored within the rules of The Curse.
Jay (Her Family/Parents)
Based on appearances, Jay seems nothing more than the typical teenage heroine, but as the film unravels, we begin to notice some odd things related to her family in general. First off, Jay’s parents are not often mentioned throughout the film, and at best are only shown in either brief cameos or cut aways of old photographs on the walls of the house. Another instance occurs when we peak into a conversation between Jay’s neighbors, who state that her family has “been through a lot.” But what exactly do these moments mean?
If we flash forward to the big confrontation in the film, between Jay, her friends, and the mysterious entity, we notice that the figure our leading lady sees is someone very specific: Her Father . If Jay’s family has been known throughout their community as the troubled sort, and the father was seen as a villain to Jay during this sequence, could Jay’s father have possibly been considered a threat when he was around? Was he killed or put in jail for some sexual related crime? Or was he abusive towards Jay and her sister? All of these could be possibilities, but like Jay’s neighbors have hinted, it is possible that her father was not someone to be considered trustworthy or lovable by any means.
Greg and His Mother
Typically referred to in most horror movies as the “ladies man,” Greg personifies the usual tropes of teen heartthrobs in horror films – he’s sweet, good looking, and full of confidence in any situation – even going as far as to “help” Jay with her problem by sleeping with her in the hospital. Greg, unlike Jay, does not easily see “the curse” as she does. In fact, he is convinced the curse is made up, until a certain moment confirms that it is indeed very real.
While Jay is sleeping, she awakes to see a person, who looks like Greg, break a window to get inside his own house. She then runs across the street, and leaps through the window to try and save Greg. When she climbs the top of the stairs, Jay finds a familiar figure knocking on Greg’s door – His Mother. Though she appears to be in her nightgown and looking natural, it is revealed that this isn’t actually his mother – but the curse taking on her form. When Jay turns the corner, we see his mother having sex with Greg’s dead corpse on the floor, with her restraining him by holding his arms tightly.
Like with Jay’s father, this one scene leaves much to be questioned. One has to wonder why the curse would take on the form of Greg’s Mother in the first place, and why it would kill him in such a way. It seems pretty clear to me that, in the past, Greg and his motherly figure had some sort of sexual relationship. Whether it be one that was consensual, abusive, or just flirting, I feel that his mother being the version of the curse that killed Greg off was not just a random decision by any means.
This also is an important moment, in that this is the first and only instance where we actually see “It” kill someone on screen. We had seen the remains of prior victims, or been told of what it could do to someone, but we’ve never seen the crime at hand. This then begs the question, does said curse murder its victims by having some form of sexual intercourse with them? That would logically make sense, since that is also the way “it” is passed on in the first place, and “it” could punish the teens by killing them in what should be a pleasurable experience, but it would be interesting to know if that is indeed its confirmed method of killing.
It Follows and Virginity
Though many will argue that It Follows is strictly a story that relates to the fear and struggle with getting STD’s, I happen to think that a case can be made that the film is just as much an allegory for losing your virginity.
First, after Jay has sexual intercourse (though not her “first”) with Hugh, she goes into a short speech about how she always thought love and dating would be a certain way when she was younger, but now as an adult she views it differently. Though it could be said that this chunk of dialog is nothing but fluff to lead into the next sequence, I couldn’t help but make my own personal connections to Jay’s words, as I believe I uttered a similar speech when I unjoined the V-Club. And, when one loses their virginity, it normally isn’t the magical, fairy tale, movie experience pop culture has groomed us to expect, but rather it can be scary and almost paranoia filled for some. Am I pregnant? What will my parents think? Am I a bad person? Your mind can, in some cases, be racing with any thought imaginable. The curse can, in some cases, be a representation of those emotional reactions. And considering the possibility that Jay might have been sexually abused by her father, these fears/reactions are very possible.
But the aspect that brings even more of the losing virginity theme into the film is represented in the character of Paul. We are told in many instances, through looks and bits of dialog, that Paul has had a crush on Jay since they were kids. They shared their first kiss together, looked at adult magazines for the first time, and experienced many other important milestones in each other’s company. So it would make sense that Paul (though there is no immediate instance that says he is a member of the V-Club) would want to lose his virginity to Jay. And, when the two finally do have sex, Jay is on top of Paul – implying that she is the more experienced one of the two.
When they have finished their intercourse, the two ask each other the stereotypical question, “Do you feel any different?” For Jay, her response relates to “it,” as if to ask if she feels she no longer cursed. But when the question is addressed to Paul, it could either mean does he feel the curse has been passed onto him, or does he feel that he is a different person because of losing his virginity? I vote for both, but an argument can be made for either side being the definitive reason.
Though most of these are just my own interpretations, It Follows is the kind of film that allows for its audience to view and enjoy it whichever way they please. There is no right or wrong answer, but discovering your own conclusions is half the “fun,” so to speak. Whether you view it one way or another, the fact that a simple horror movie like this can create such discussions, must mean it is something special, which I definitely believe to be true.
So, what did you think of It Follows? Do you have your own theories? Comment below and let’s discuss the complexities of this new horror hit!