Here is the transcript of Darrell Buxton’s introduction to the excellent new release It Follows from last Friday. IT FOLLOWS continues its run at QUAD for the next ten days.
Good evening and welcome to QUAD for tonight’s screening of brand new teen horror release IT FOLLOWS, forming part of our current ‘Teens Rule O.K.!‘ season of classic coming-of-age and adolescence-themed movies.
I’m Darrell Buxton, editor of the books ‘The Shrieking Sixties: British Horror Films 1960-1969’ and the forthcoming ‘Dead or Alive: British Horror Films 1980-1989’, and QUAD’s chief expert on scary and shocking cinema, and I’m here to say a few words to introduce our creepy offering. Despite the fact that I left my own teens way back in 1982.
IT FOLLOWS has received a string of glowing reviews and seems to be the first horror film since THE BABADOOK a few months ago to have stirred up a whirl of excitement among mainstream critics.
The film stars Maika Monroe, who you may have seen in last year’s gripping THE GUEST, here playing Jay, the central character who is subjected to the actions described by the movie’s title. Sex and teenagers in horror films rarely mix, be it the hormonal kids of 1950s drive in fare ‘making out’ in Lovers Lane before being attacked by aliens from outer space or mauled by mutated insects, or their 1980s counterparts whose untamed lusts for one another during summer camp or spring break usually result in them being impaled, knifed, axed or macheted by a masked psychopath.
1990 offered a variant on the theme in Brian Yuzna’s wonderfully gooey satire SOCIETY, in which our teen hero discovers the immediate world around him, including his own parents and all of their circle of middle aged friends, are involved in gloopy shape shifting secret orgies – as with David Cronenberg’s SHIVERS, sex becomes oddly offputting and therefore prime subject matter for the horror genre when we are presented with the notion that it’s not just for horny jocks and cheerleaders, that your mum, dad, even your grandparents, do it too and that they may actually be better at it than you are. Relatively recent horror films to touch upon the sexual theme have included 2008’s vagina dentata offering TEETH; a weird British variant on a similar theme in 2004’s PENETRATION ANGST; and the criminally underrated JENNIFER’S BODY from 2009, with the possessed and red hot Megan Fox bloodily rampaging through the guys in high school. Then of course there’s last year’s instant classic, UNDER THE SKIN, with Scarlett Johansson in career-best form as a bewildered alien sent to Glasgow to lure unsuspecting and lusty young Scotsmen into a killer pool of black ooze.
So, sex kills. And tonight’s film IT FOLLOWS continues that grand tradition, as a steamy encounter in the back of a car leaves Maika Monroe susceptible to the threat of a supernatural presence like something emerging half-formed from one of M.R. James’ Victorian ghost tales. This mix of old school ‘lurking fear’ unease and modern puritanical warnings about the perils of casual liaisons combines to create something that appears to have tapped a critical nerve. Add in a distinctive, pulsating score by experimental musician Richard Vreeland aka Disasterpeace, which has been compared by many to the vintage ambient drone soundtracks penned by John Carpenter, the constantly shifting physical appearance of the beastie in its varying corporeal forms, and the time-honoured concept of the passing on of the curse from one unsuspecting victim to another, and IT FOLLOWS – perhaps fittingly for a movie using that title – can be seen to have lifted much from cinema’s unnerving past to patchwork together something frighteningly fresh.
The film’s director David Robert Mitchell visited teen territory in his 2010 debut feature, THE MYTH OF THE AMERICAN SLEEPOVER. In the Guardian this week, the paper’s movie critic Peter Bradshaw described that previous offering as “a gentle, unthreatening drama about teens and platonic crushes”. Bradshaw went on to write, promisingly for us, that “that was Dr Jekyll compared to the snarling Mr Hyde of this new one”, and says of IT FOLLOWS “it genuinely is disturbing”.
Editor of horror magazine par excellence, Fangoria’s Chris Alexander, calls IT FOLLOWS “an incredibly evolved, joyously alive piece of “dead teenager” cinema that likely requires a few viewings to properly assimilate its rhythms”. Chris added that “it could easily become part of any High School health class curriculum, because If I saw it as a kid, when I was at my hormonal, girl-hungry peak, I’d likely pack my bags and move to a monastery”. So, cold showers at the ready, prepare to enter a world where, once again, sex equals death.
Don’t miss the next Fright Club screening on Friday 13th March at 8:55pm of Wes Craven’s seminal 90s horror Scream, the film that revived the slasher genre in the mid 90s.