It Follows movie review: sexually transmitted dread

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It Follows yellow light

Wait. Really? Horror movies are still doing the punishing-girls-for-having-sex thing? Ah, but this is 80s retro, so it’s “okay,” then.
I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Wait. Really? Horror movies are still doing the punishing-girls-for-having-sex thing? Goddammit…

Ah, but It Follows is “retro,” so that’s okay then. It’s “80s.” Except for that one cell phone in the opening scene, and the weird little e-reader in a cosmetics case. But listen to the electronica score, clearly meant to evoke John Carpenter! Check out the old gas-guzzling cars and square cathode-ray TVs and the cheesy porn mags! So 80s.

Girls weren’t allowed to have sex in the 80s, and if they did, they were sluts. If they wanted it, they deserved to die. Everyone knows this. (Some people still think it today.) So it is with Jay (Maika Monroe: The Guest*, Labor Day), who actually initiates sex with her new boyfriend, Hugh (Jake Weary). And then she discovers that she is now the target of the supernatural haunting murderous spectre that has been dogging Hugh for a while.

Now, it’s true that if there’s one single original thing about It Follows — and there’s pretty much just the one — it’s that a horror flick has never laid it out this explicitly that the yer-gonna-die! curse is sexually transmitted, is actually directly connected to the fact that you touched your naughty bits to someone else’s naughty bits like some kind of freak because, Jesus, who does that? Gross! Because that’s the way it is here. Hugh informs Jay of this after they’ve done the deed, and tells her that the only way to get rid of it is to have sex with someone else and pass it on. (Hugh kindly chloroforms and ties up Jay so that she cannot run away before the spectre appears and he can explain the rules to her.) This kinda still doesn’t help, because if that person cannot avoid being killed by the It that’s Following, then the It will come back for you, and then presumably all the way back down the line. You can’t ever really relax, because you can never be sure you’ve escaped It for good. The movie is like Final Destination, in that way, so in this sense only 15 years retro instead of 30.

Anyway, if only Jay had slaked her slutty needs with her friend Paul (Keir Gilchrist: It’s Kind of a Funny Story), who is constantly hanging around and is a Nice Guy who is always there for her! He doesn’t have any supernatural haunting murderous spectres hanging around his cock. Maybe Jay will learn her lesson… if she survives, that is.

Sure, there is lots of elegant style and tension in writer-director David Robert Mitchell second feature, but that’s about all there is. Maybe that’s enough for some horror fans. Me, I’d like to see something new to be terrified about (now that sex has stopped being scary to me). Gosh, might there be a few things around today, in the 2010s, that inspire dread?

*‘The Guest’ is another retro 80s throwback. What the hell, young filmmakers? Do you have any original ideas to share with us, or are you all just going to chase your fanboy tails down rabbit holes of retro meta?


See also my #WhereAreTheWomen rating of It Follows for its representation of girls and women.

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MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 1:10pm

Any comments that refer to Rotten Tomatoes will probably be deleted, unless you are especially pathetic and hilarious, in which case we will point and laugh at you.

disqus_tQOb4DqB8B
disqus_tQOb4DqB8B
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 12:01am

So basically “I write shit reviews on movies I don’t actually watch, and play the social justice warrior card for more views”

beal
beal
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Mar 10, 2015 8:19pm

like this one?

Martin Wagner
Martin Wagner
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 16, 2015 7:06am

This really isn’t an attitude that does you credit as a critic.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Martin Wagner
Mon, Mar 16, 2015 9:45am

You think a critic should worry about a Rotten Tomatoes score? You think *anyone* should be so invested in it that s/he gets actually *upset* when a score is “ruined” by a honest review?

You think I should be kind to those who would abuse me based on what I say about a movie?

I venture to guess that you haven’t been on the shit end of bile from deranged movie fanatics over the course of many years.

Mike Hawk
Mike Hawk
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Thu, Mar 26, 2015 4:04pm

Pretty sure Martin meant the point and laugh superiority complex.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Mar 28, 2015 4:56am

so all those other reviews are ‘dishonest’? you have a very inflated opinion of yourself, and i guess a low tolerance for opinions that differ from yours. fact is, you missed the point of this movie and the RT score only backs that up. Truth is hard to hear, I guess.

Perhaps if you feel ‘abused’ for your opinion, you shouldn’t be posting it openly online. Funny how you’re threatening to censor those who just want to post their own opinions. What a joke. Deranged to you seems to equal “dissenting opinion.”

Maybe this reaction here should be telling you something, but you’re too blinded by hubris to see it.

James
James
reply to  Martin Wagner
Mon, Apr 06, 2015 8:02pm

Your first mistake was assuming you’re talking to a critic instead of a whiny, self-righteous, sexist wino.

Putin on the Ritz
Putin on the Ritz
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Mar 29, 2015 3:46am

Wow, you sound like a real stick in the mud… compared to every horror from the last five years? This movie was great!

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Putin on the Ritz
Sun, Mar 29, 2015 1:53pm

So you want kids to be afraid of sex?

Putin on the Ritz
Putin on the Ritz
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 30, 2015 7:17am

Yeah, it wouldn’t be a bad place to start… let them proceed with caution. I’ve just known way to many kids growing up having kids way too soon.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Putin on the Ritz
Mon, Mar 30, 2015 7:21pm

So we teach ’em how NOT to have kids or get a disease and be safe. We do NOT teach them to be afraid of something they are going to do anyway.

Jesus.

Putin on the Ritz
Putin on the Ritz
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 6:03am

So you’re saying you want teens to get pregnant contract disease and not watch good movies??? That’s the devil’s trifecta.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Putin on the Ritz
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 11:40am

Clearly, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

James
James
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Apr 06, 2015 8:04pm

Kids should not be afraid of sex. This film was about fear of growing up. Part of that is having sex and doing things kids see as “adult” and the fears/consequences of those actions. That was the whole point of the film.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  James
Mon, Apr 06, 2015 9:01pm

Wonderful non sequitur. Thank you! It all makes sense now.

Matthew Raymond
Matthew Raymond
reply to  James
Fri, Apr 10, 2015 8:28pm

That explanation would make more sense if the main character was a virgin at the onset of the movie, which wasn’t the case. Plus Jay is supposed to be 17 in the film, so she’s nearly an adult to begin with.

Gerrtrude
Gerrtrude
reply to  Putin on the Ritz
Fri, Jun 12, 2015 4:08pm

She fucking rated it lower than Insidious 3.

danielmann861
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Thu, May 07, 2015 1:59am

“in which case we will point and laugh at you”

Yeah, tell me again why I should ever take you and your criticism seriously when you obviously have the mental capacity of a 9 year old looking for the last word on the playground? As is evident by the fact that you’re all over this comment board making sure your voice is the loudest when anyone disagrees with you.

Quite frankly, you’re nothing. Absolutely nothing. You’re just some blogger screaming your opinion into the big bad ether of opinions. I wouldn’t even know you exist without Rotten Tomatoes. That’s how much of a nothing you are.

You’re an absolute nobody who has the unwarranted misguided ego of someone who thinks they are someone of relevance. Hate to burst your bubble but when you write childish crap like what you wrote above, it just makes me laugh at YOU and your worthless ego all that much more.

As someone else said, this attitude does not do you any service at being a reputable critic. It just makes you look like a joke.

Gerrtrude
Gerrtrude
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Jun 12, 2015 4:06pm

Why are you so worried about people complaining? You wouldn’t have to worry if you used both hands to type your review. Instead, you used your dominant one to stroke your feminist boner and using your southpaw to claw at the keyboard like the feminist cat you are!

Matt
Matt
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 1:33pm

Not a credible review and should be ignored.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  Matt
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 1:50pm

Why isn’t it credible? Is it factually wrong, or do you just happen to disagree with it?

Jack
Jack
reply to  Danielm80
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 5:45pm

She isn’t reviewing the film so much as identifying misogyny that isn’t even present. 4 people die from the sex monster, 2 female, 2 male.

The monster punishes people for NOT fornicating each other. Also, the monster is the antagonist of the story, we’re meant to side with the horny teenagers (I’m pointing this out for the sake of the stupid, which there are many in this board).

To sum up, MaryAnn is a sexist oaf who expects special treatment for her gender. This review is a complete joke and is part of the reason why real feminists are given a bad name

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Jack
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 8:11pm

The monster punishes people for NOT fornicating each other.

Ha. What you describe could be seen an expression of how many people feel about women’s sexuality: She’s either a virgin or a whore. Jay would have been safe if she hadn’t had sex at all. Now she *has no choice* but to have sex, even with men she doesn’t really want to have sex with, because she made the choice to have it once before with someone she did want.

You are welcome to leave this site and never comment again if you are unable to do so with being an obnoxious jerk.

Edp
Edp
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 11:34pm

I would say I think you miss the point but I will say I dont see it from your point of view. This film has nothing to do with sexual politics, it just happens that the main character is female. You could argue that she was significantly less punished for having sex than her kindly neighbour across the street! I watched this with my feminist partner and neither of us saw your perception of this film. It’s very rare to see a horror film with any originality, you should try and enjoy it for that and not bring sexual politics into it. If you really want to do that, how do you explain the pathetic loser male who would risk his life for this girl? I just saw young people in a horror film. Not everyone is out to get ‘you’!

Jack
Jack
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 1:25pm

What about the men who also get punished for choosing to have sex?

Using your logic, James Cameron is punishing all his characters who board the titanic for making the choice to buy tickets. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

I find it quite ironic that you’re referencing very old fashioned notions of women being “either a virgin or a whore”, in a review that does nothing but criticise old school filmmaking/writing.

All you’re really doing is using this as an excuse to push your sexist views on everyone else. The whole “I’m sick of retro” thing is like me disliking pizza, going to a restaurant, then ordering a pizza and giving the restaurant a negative review.

I am well aware I can leave this site and never comment again, but that’s a very fascistic thing to say in a debate (if you can call this that).

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Jack
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 5:33pm

What about the men who also get punished for choosing to have sex?

What about them? They are not whom this movie is about.

Using your logic, James Cameron is punishing all his characters who board the titanic for making the choice to buy tickets. It’s absolutely ridiculous.

This tells me you don’t understand logic.

very old fashioned notions of women being “either a virgin or a whore”

This tells me you have no idea how women are treated in the real world and also, in general, on film.

ordering a pizza and giving the restaurant a negative review.

And this tells me you don’t understand how criticism works.

You’re on a roll!

Jack
Jack
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 12:07am

Half the main characters in this film are male and you’re saying this film “isn’t about them”.

This shows how sexist you are, forget gender, ‘It Follows’ is about people. Regardless of how many X chromosomes you have, this film invites you to side with the main character.

You’re just a stubborn old fool who sees apartheid in everything. Well guess what, you’re the only thing that’s sexist here! And once again, you address the points I make without explaining how I’m wrong, just like your joke of a review.

It’s obscene how this childish piece of writing has been taken seriously, I can’t belive you’re the reason why this film lost its 100% fresh rating, what a waste!

“The movie is like Final Destination, in that way, so in this sense only 15 years retro instead of 30.”- God, you’d think a 13 year old came up with a point like that.

Oh, and in reference to “This tells me you have no idea how women are treated in the real world and also, in general, on film.”. Sorry, but almost every woman I’ve met has had sex outside of wedlock, and none of them are labelled ‘whores’. This tells me YOU have no idea how women are treated in real life and in cinema, hence why your ‘review’ showcases extremely dated values. Yes, misogyny is very much alive today- but this film has nothing to do with it.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Jack
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 7:58am

Half the main characters in this film are male and you’re saying this film “isn’t about them”.

This is true in that same way the vast majority of films are not *about* the one or two token women present in the cast. I’m sure you know there is a difference between the protagonist and supporting characters.

Regardless of how many X chromosomes you have, this film invites you to side with the main character

See, you *do* know. And the way the world feels about women who have sex outside of narrow permitted parameters is wildly different from how the world feels about men who do the same. Therefore, a female protagonist in this context is wildly different than a male one.

You’re just a stubborn old fool

Oh, I’m *so* wounded.

Jack
Jack
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 11:26am

Why are you enforcing these stereotypes of how other people view women on the filmmakers? At no point do they address her as (you would call it) a ‘whore’. She’s a 19 year old, doing what most 19 year olds do.

If anything, ‘It Follows’ criticises male sexuality, in the sequence where her friend (the guy with the long hair) opts to have sex with her, not because he believes the story, but because he wants to get some.

As a result, the monster kills him.

To use an example of how ludicrous your interpretation is, it’s almost like me saying that James Cameron hates mothers, because The Terminator is trying to kill a woman who makes a son that will one day save the world.

Stop making the directors look evil by enforcing your hilarious misinterpretations on them. There is far more sexist media out there. It Follows is not of that creed.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Mar 28, 2015 5:00am

Serious question: can you ever just watch a film as a film and not try to drag socio-political commentary into it?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  What Happened To Josie?
Sat, Mar 28, 2015 7:30pm

You are at the wrong review site if you think this is a problem.

Please stop cluttering up my comments section with attempts to derail. Engage with my review or with the other commenters, or don’t bother.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 30, 2015 4:30pm

Sorry you don’t like the criticism (and folks, just FYI, she deleted about half of the valid responses I made…because she’s that mature).

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  What Happened To Josie?
Mon, Mar 30, 2015 5:43pm

Criticism is fine. Insults, namecalling, and abuse are not. Learn the difference, or stop posting here.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 30, 2015 5:44pm

Ah, but you can’t seem to tell the difference. I raise valid points, you censor me. Not sure how that’s namecalling and abuse, unless ‘differing opinion’ means ‘namecalling and abuse’ to you.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  What Happened To Josie?
Mon, Mar 30, 2015 6:49pm

Here is a comment on MaryAnn’s review of “The Voices” that disagrees almost completely with everything she says. It has not been deleted, and probably never will. Can you see why?

If you can’t tell the difference between that comment and the ones you’ve been making, then you have some work to do.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  Bluejay
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 12:28am

arbitrary.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  What Happened To Josie?
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 1:27am

No.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  Bluejay
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 1:40am

Yep.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  What Happened To Josie?
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 1:51am

Man: An argument isn’t just contradiction.

Mr. Vibrating: It can be.

Man: No it can’t. An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition.

Mr. Vibrating: No it isn’t.

Man: Yes it is! It’s not just contradiction.

Mr. Vibrating: Look, if I argue with you, I must take up a contrary position.

Man: Yes, but that’s not just saying ‘No it isn’t.’

Mr. Vibrating: Yes it is!

Man: No it isn’t!

Man: Argument is an intellectual process. Contradiction is just the automatic gainsaying of any statement the other person makes.

(short pause)

Mr. Vibrating: No it isn’t.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  What Happened To Josie?
Mon, Mar 30, 2015 7:22pm

My site, my rules. Other people are perfectly capable of not getting into trouble.

Talk about the movie, in a reasonable grownup way, or stop posting comments here.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 12:26am

you’re dodging what i’m saying. fine. i give up.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 1:40am

if you don’t see that that’s what i was doing, then i give up.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  What Happened To Josie?
Mon, Mar 30, 2015 5:58pm

I see from your comment history that you post fairly regularly at the Onion AV Club site, so you’ve probably seen their policy on deleting comments. If not, it’s on their FAQ page:

http://www.avclub.com/about/

MaryAnn never deletes comments because she disagrees with them. She often deletes comments that are uncivil or inappropriate. Her definition of “uncivil or inappropriate” is pretty similar to the AV Club guidelines. They’re not very restrictive, because the AV folks like open discussion.

In your case, the comments were apparently deleted because they were off-topic and insulting. I know from experience that comments don’t always come across in writing the way you meant them. If you have something important to say about the movie (and you seem very enthusiastic about discussing the film), it’s more likely to get heard if you don’t sound belligerent when you say it.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 12:30am

and yet i don’t recall ever getting anything deleted over there…hrm…

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  What Happened To Josie?
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 1:45am

If you read the other comments on this thread, or on the thread for Kingsman or Cinderella, you’ll see that dozens, probably hundreds, of people disagreed with MaryAnn’s reviews, and yet their comments haven’t been deleted. Some of them even made personal attacks on MaryAnn, and their comments are still up. She’s surprisingly patient about that sort of thing. The people who get banned, or have their comments removed, tend to be folks who post insulting or irrelevant comments over and over again.

Another thing those people have in common: They keep insisting that they were censored because MaryAnn disagreed with them.

If you’re interested in coming to this site and discussing the movie, you might try actually discussing the movie.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 1:41am

and yet…i’ve never been deleted on AVC. go figure.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  What Happened To Josie?
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 4:59am

Y’know what, you started off with a premise – that film criticism and social criticism should be kept separate – that has been beaten to death. Your subsequent temper tantrum strongly indicates that you couldn’t even maintain the level of pseudo-intellectual jack-offery of that opening statement. Having it deleted probably just saved the rest of us the trouble of having to roll our eyes at you, at best. Kinda like we’re doing now.

But, I know, I know, yourprecious words. How will the world survive without them. Somehow I think we’ll all find the strength to carry on.

RogerBW
RogerBW
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 31, 2015 10:19am

I saw the initial flood of comments through the Disqus email feed. Just more of the usual bingo-card complaints, nothing worth responding to.

will_phill
will_phill
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Mar 04, 2015 10:28am

Isnt someone allowed to review your review without being seen as being obnoxious? Thats obnoxious…

Satan's Taint
Satan's Taint
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Mar 10, 2015 3:38am

Arrogant cunt.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Mar 28, 2015 4:58am

it must be exhausting, trying to be offended by everything and seeing things that aren’t there. we expect movie reviews, not socio-politcal polemics.

mortadella
mortadella
reply to  Jack
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 6:29pm

Oooww, Jack. Thanks for telling real feminists what the should and shouldn’t say. Mansplain at its finest.

Jack
Jack
reply to  mortadella
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 8:57pm

In a climate where ‘feminism’ has almost became a dirty word because of women like Anita sarkeesian and Johanson, I feel the need to remind people that not all feminists are fascist morons.

So you are most welcome.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Jack
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 9:52pm

women like Anita sarkeesian and Johanson

Such illustrious company you place me in!

Jack
Jack
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 10:13pm

Only the best for you, MaryAnn.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Jack
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 9:58pm

I assume you prefer feminists who are demure and quiet and keep their opinions to themselves, or at least restrict themselves to opinions you find acceptable.

Jack, you are the moron you’re looking for.

Jack
Jack
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 10:18pm

I see none of you are attempting to refute my points and instead have opted for name calling.

She can be as loud and obnoxious with her views as she wishes, just don’t be suprised when people bite back.

And believe it or not, I’m don’t dislike feminism (uck, did I really need to type that sentence?), I just think that MaryAnn, as an individual, is full of shit.

But I’m a white man, so what do I know, huh?

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Jack
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 12:28am

Son, I don’t wrestle pigs in the mud, either. Doesn’t mean they’re winning.

Jack
Jack
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 11:16am

Only losers use that excuse.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 10:25pm

And in two weeks, the film will open in the U.S., and we can have this discussion all over again.

dobro
dobro
reply to  Danielm80
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 11:57pm

And the discussion has become pretty heated! Personally I didn’t see anything that felt sexist in the film, although perhaps I was just distracted by the sheer terror I felt for most of its duration. Thinking about it after, I think my own view is probably similar to Kim Newman’s, who writing for Sight&Sound says: “This is not a story about a woman punished for having sex, but an indictment of the calculating guy who gets out from under the curse by passing it on to an innocent. Jay agonises about the moral implications of following suit in a way he didn’t even consider.” I think that also explains why it is easy to identify with the female lead and we always feel on her side. There is never any sense she is any way deserving of her fate.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  dobro
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 10:02pm

But is there *ever* truly a sense that the girls who die in horror movies after having sex deserve it? I don’t think so. I don’t think this movie acts like Jay deserves her fate. And yet the filmmaker constructed a story around it anyway.

dobro
dobro
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Mar 04, 2015 11:32am

Actually I think there is. The most widely used variant of the classic horror trope of sex = death has a girl who is portrayed as of ‘lesser worth’ in some way having sex and being killed – often, for example, a shallow cheerleader who only cares about popularity etc. There is therefore an implicit link established that slutty behaviour = deserving of punishment which, I think, is the essence of the misogynistic undercurrent of such movies.And what a movie implicitly implies people deserve or don’t deserve, and implicity implies about how the world should be, is one of the main things that makes it misogynistic, sexist or otherwise. It Follows, by contrast, breaks with this format, suggesting that having sex does not make one deserving of punishment. Instead, it suggests that sex can be a dangerous thing because it requires trust in another human being, and that trust can be broken with awful consequences. We’re shown the consequences of trust being abused and broken for a female lead with whom we identify. And if the movie does not in any way suggest she deserves her fate, then it cannot really be saying that she’s punished for having sex – or, if it is, it must be saying ‘look at the unfair world we live in, in which someone who doesn’t deserve punishment gets it anyway’. Which, I think, would be a valid point in relation to contemporary gender relations, and a definite step forward from the classic portrayal of the sex=death trope. However, I think the movie’s main ‘point’ is about the complex relationship of sex and trust, and the dangers of sex that result from that.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  dobro
Wed, Mar 04, 2015 2:10pm

a shallow cheerleader who only cares about popularity

So is this sort of character being punished for beings shallow, or for having sex?

dobro
dobro
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Wed, Mar 04, 2015 3:27pm

Well both – I guess having sex is seen as an expression of her shallowness, rather than an expression of any deeper feeling between two people, and as such leads to a horrific death that the film is suggesting is, in some way, ‘deserving’. It is through attributing traits to characters, such as shallowness (or, in the case of It Follows, Jay’s sense of moral responsibility and anguish over whether to attempt to pass the follower on), that a film can suggest whose side the audience should be on and what are valid and permissible actions for those character types. In the classic trope the characters with negative traits have sex and get killed (slutty behaviour/shallowness = death) and the characters with the ‘positive’ trait of chastity survive. It is in this dichotomy and the portrayal of female sexuality or female ‘types’ as falling into two dichotomous forms (whore vs virgin), and suggesting those types lead to judgments which are ‘validated’ by some supernatural death-bringer, that the classic portrayal betrays its misogynistic underpinnings. It Follows does not fall into this trap, and instead portrays its female lead as a real, complex person, who has the agency to choose whether or not to engage in sex without the film judging her, but it does show how she is brought brutally face-to-face with the reality of sex: its implicit dangers and how a choice to engage, or not, in sexual activity often has deeper, or different, consequences that we at first believe.

Graeme Smith
Graeme Smith
reply to  dobro
Wed, Mar 04, 2015 11:38pm

Wonderfully well argued point, I wish I could put my response down in words so eloquently!

dobro
dobro
reply to  Graeme Smith
Sat, Mar 07, 2015 6:04pm

Thank you.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Mar 28, 2015 5:02am

it’s funny but also sad how you’re convinced you can read the director’s mind and know their intentions and motivations. pretty cool superpower!

Kevin L
Kevin L
reply to  mortadella
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 10:18pm

Nah, real feminists are the ones who tell other women that they’re incapable of deciding who they can and can’t have sex with. Real feminists call it “sexual abuse” when a woman has consensual sex that they don’t agree with. It’s a good thing we have the OP’s very own brand of Womansplaining to shame all women and men who don’t think like her.

Matthew Raymond
Matthew Raymond
reply to  Kevin L
Fri, Apr 10, 2015 9:04pm

A True Scotsman fallacy as told by someone who hates the metaphorical True Scotsmen. Classic.

Hey-o
Hey-o
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 8:58pm

It is a fair point. She doesn’t seem to have anything critical to say about the movie itself, but rather simply bemoans her dislike for the premise and how it applies to her worldview. She could’ve watched only the trailer and written the exact same piece. Her review definitely has an agenda behind it, so it has no critical credibility.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  Hey-o
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 10:00pm

It may be a fair point. It may not. But Matt didn’t make it. You did.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  Matt
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 2:08pm

Not a credible comment and should be ignored.

RogerBW
RogerBW
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 1:46pm

Cabin in the Woods dammit! Cabin in the Woods Cabin in the Woods Cabin in the Woods.

I get the impression that a substantial slice of horror fans, and now of horror filmmakers, grew up with a very narrow focus on those 80s films: that’s the thing they’re fans of, not horror in general, so that’s what they make.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  RogerBW
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 2:16pm

There’s *almost* a cabin in the woods here. Because of course there is.

What Happened To Josie?
What Happened To Josie?
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Mar 28, 2015 5:04am

your contempt for this genre means you can’t review a film of this genre without bias. you’re unqualified.

CB
CB
reply to  RogerBW
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 3:06pm

I kind mention Spoilers for other movies…

Exactly what I was thinking — “There’s only one reason to punish women for sex in a horror movie, and it’s to satisfy the demands of ancient dark gods — a *truly* retro reason!”

Also, I was thinking as I read the first half of the third paragraph that lays out the gimmick, “Wouldn’t it be funny if this was like The Ring and to avoid death you had to pass it on, making it like a Horror STD?” Then I got to the part of the paragraph that explained that’s exactly what they did. But if it’s punishing you for having sex, how does that make any sense?

In The Ring, Samara wanted to spread her pain around and share it. That was the point of making the tape, and of making people copy it to avoid her wrath.

What’s the point here? Is the It that Follows (I like the way that sounds) trying to actually encourage promiscuity for some reason?

RogerBW
RogerBW
reply to  CB
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 3:14pm

Yeah, seems as though the best thing to do in this situation would be to organise an orgy and confuse the Big Nasty to death.

CB
CB
reply to  RogerBW
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 3:50pm

“What are you doing? Oh, gross! No, this isn’t what I wanted! Argh, humans!”

WhyOWhy?
WhyOWhy?
reply to  RogerBW
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 7:13pm

Hilarious, and are we talking strictly vaginal intercourse here? Are you infected through anal?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  WhyOWhy?
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 11:03pm

I’m sure the porn version of *It Follows* will answer your question.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 2:02am

May it, uh, come soon.

jIM
jIM
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 12:02am

It Swallows

Matthew Raymond
Matthew Raymond
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Apr 10, 2015 9:09pm

I always thought that a movie about a monster that kill’s you if you DON’T have sex would make a great porn.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  CB
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 3:54pm

The It doesn’t seem to have any purpose. Except as a subconscious (or perhaps even conscious) artifact of the filmmaker’s psyche and the teen-focused ethos of the horror genre for the past 35 years.

RogerBW
RogerBW
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 4:00pm

“The only way to stop the THING from killing you is to make and release a found-footage-style horror movie of your own.”

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  RogerBW
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 6:15pm

That has comedy potential.

CB
CB
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 4:08pm

Ah, so it’s representing (deliberately or not) that particular attitude of some adults towards teenage sex that is overtly disapproving, yet bizarrely obsessed to the point of imagining more sex than teens ever actually got up to — like those invented “rainbow party” and jelly bracelet sex code moral panics. Or in this case, causing more sex via Horror-induced Promiscuity.

a
a
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 3:10pm

Lol. Bye bye 100% fresh rating. I haven’t seen the film, because It’s not opening anywhere near me, cause I’m deprive. But, it is with limited expectation that I will walk in and expect something half-intriguing, half been-there-done-that.

Hoping for the best. I hope this movie is *at least* fun, if it’s not going to be scary.

Max
Max
reply to  a
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 11:35pm

why wouldn’t it be scary?

dobro
dobro
reply to  a
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 11:10pm

It’s most definitely NOT fun. This is very dark, weird horror, not fun horror. It has some horrible scenes, but not much gore at all, and I can’t remember the last time a film frightened me this much. It’s essentially a very clever, tense, eerie piece of filmmaking that somehow manages to sustain a high level of tension and a constant sense of impending doom. It does use classic horror tropes, but not in a way I’ve ever seen before, and I’ve never seen it done this well either.

a
a
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 3:20pm

This may, or may not be related to this comment thread, but I’m curious what the reviewer thinks of *The Duke of Burgundy*, it is an acclaimed film that is situated at the very bottom of the ranking. It would make for a very interesting review.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  a
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 3:52pm

It’s not acclaimed by me.

I’ll review it soon.

Max
Max
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 7:37pm

ooof course it isn’t.

a
a
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Mar 08, 2015 4:27pm

Waiting. :-)

Jenny
Jenny
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 4:51pm

Lol what? The woman isn’t ‘punished for having sex’. In total there are 4 characters affected by it. 2 boys and 2 girls. Of them, 2 people die’ 1 boy and 1 girl. It’s fine to not like the movie but don’t drop the ‘sexism’ card, it diminishes the reality of actual examples of sexism and misogyny,

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Jenny
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 6:16pm

The protagonist is female. She is the central character. The story is *about* her.

OCD Geek
OCD Geek
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 9:14pm

Correct me if I’m wrong (I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I very well could be), but isn’t this movie supposed to be a metaphor about unprotected sex rather than premarital sex in general? I heard that the killer is supposed to represent STDs.

If that’s the case I don’t think the message of the piece is “don’t have premarital sex and also girls are sluts” like you interpreted it as. I think the message is supposed to be “do what you want, just be safe about it and always use a condom”.

Having said that I haven’t seen the movie yet and you have, so even if my interpretation is indeed the intended one the filmmakers could very well have misfired in their execution.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  OCD Geek
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 11:11pm

I’m sure a dozen different people will tell you a dozen different things this film a metaphor for. That said, I did not say “the message of the piece is ‘don’t have premarital sex and also girls are sluts.'” I am saying that with its use of the “fear of sex” trope — which has always impacted girls more in horror films — this film is retreading ground, and does so without finding anything interesting or new to say about it. I’m saying that I’m tired of filmmakers indulging in retro for the sake of retro.

Jack
Jack
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 5:57pm

The “fear of sex” trope has been a key element of horror since even before film began. To give an example, Bram Stoker’s Dracula has a lot of sexual undertones. Even the now PG-rated universal monster flicks contain elements of sexuality.

“It Follows” can certainly be described as ‘retro’ to an extent, but it is not because of it’s potrayal of casual sex (we, the viewer, are invited to side with the victims. The safest escape from the monster is literally by f***ing other people).

The soundtrack, the dated technology, the strange mesh with modern e-books, is all designed to give the film a timeless feel. In my opinion, it adds to the threat. Viewers from decades to come can see themselves within this story.

Sorry, but your review is a confused mess. You identify some things that are true (people using dated and modern tech, people touching ‘naughty bits’). But you fail to identify why it’s problematic, and that’s because it isn’t.

But well done for noticing that it’s retro…

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Jack
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 8:13pm

The safest escape from the monster is literally by f***ing other people

Yeah, even if you don’t want to! Even if sex becomes a rote, joyless chore.

Jack
Jack
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 1:30pm

Yup. And that is why the filmmakers succeded in making a truly terrifying concept.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Jack
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 5:34pm

Sez you. I was not in the least bit terrified.

Simon Glass
Simon Glass
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 6:44pm

Have sex some day and maybe you’ll get the point? Come on MaryAnn, dying a virgin is so 70s slasher. One other thing, for a woman who appears to have a pathological need to prove she’s the smartest person in the room (on the board?), I’d have expected you to know it’s “not who”, not, “not whom”: (referring to one of your oh-so-snarky responses above). It’s only “whom” after a preposition i.e. To whom is unfounded allegations of sexism a knee-jerk allegation, covering her stunted ability to criticise adequately?

David Talisman
David Talisman
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 8:47am

You’re grasping here.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  David Talisman
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 12:50pm

No matter what Carter said, Reagan would respond by shaking his head in a sorrowful but personable manner and saying: “There you go again.” This was brilliant, because (a) it required the candidate to remember only four words, and (b) he delivered them so believably that everything Carter said seemed like a lie. If Carter had stated that the Earth was round, Reagan would have shaken his head, saying, “There you go again,” and millions of voters would have said: “Yeah! What does Carter think we are? Stupid?

—Dave Barry, Dave Barry Slept Here

Mark Z
Mark Z
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 4:57pm

So is every movie sexist or do you just look for problems to complain about?

RogerBW
RogerBW
reply to  Mark Z
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 5:27pm

If only someone had come up with a way of scoring films on their representation of women, so that we could discuss this with data rather than prejudice.

Victoria Plum
Victoria Plum
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 6:00pm

At what point is the curse of being followed specifically only passed to women the curse as I would describe it is just as dangerous to men as it is women so maybe your just a extreme feminist looking to become offended at things not meant to be offensive of the 5 characters you see being afflicted with the curse 3 are men and only 2 are women one of which dies during the opening sequence these facts make your entire point/argument farcical and not relevant to the movie maybe you don’t want to conform and couldn’t find any other reasons for liking such a topo horror movie so you have invented something and nit picked and the best you came up with is inaccurate also to try to claim this movie adds nothing new is just idiotic the one thing that pretty much has been agreed upon universally like the film or not is that its very original to me this is the best horror I have seen in a long long time and im a horror buff but tastes vary so you not liking the movie as much as me is fine however maybe think longer and harder to find the true reason you disliked it as whats written above makes me wonder if you have actually watched the movie or not

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Victoria Plum
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 6:18pm

Yup, I’m an extreme feminist! I even have periods. You should try it sometime.

RogerBW
RogerBW
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 6:29pm

Clearly, the Feminist Conspiracy are keeping periods to themselves in order to deny them to men.

Constable
Constable
reply to  RogerBW
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 3:48am

How dare they. What’s next, taking all the “x”s and leaving us the “y”s? They really aren’t about equality after all.

Edp
Edp
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 11:36pm

You are a troll on your own website!

Simon Glass
Simon Glass
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 6:45pm

Extreme feminist? What a novel euphemism for virgin.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Simon Glass
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 9:49pm

I will confirm your deepest secret fear: When you say things like this, the grownups in the room know that your are actually projecting your own anxieties onto others.

Simon Glass
Simon Glass
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Mar 06, 2015 1:31am

Darling, the passive aggressive, “the one who smelt it dealt it” argument is weak at the best of times. For a woman with a pathological need to share her inanity with the world under the misguided trope of feminist critique, is truly bathetic. Oooh look MaryAnn big words!!! We can all play the “let’s talk out of our ass” game, you just don’t play it anywhere near as well as you’d like to imagine. Moreover, the most “punishing” and transgressive act of sex revenge in the film happens to the boy who willingly took the curse because he didn’t believe it, where he was fucked to death by a doppelgänger of his mother. In that respect the feminist aggressors were both the heroine passing on the curse and the monster plumbing the depths of the Freudian male wound… blah blah blah blah… maybe I can take over from MaryAnn? I certainly talk shit as (un)convincingly as she does and at least I am aware I’m talking out of my ass!

Beowulf
Beowulf
reply to  Victoria Plum
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 6:58pm

Nobody sees the same film, obviously, but what the hell is up with this trend of asking naysayers if they’ve actually watched the movie? Are you perhaps a Christian conservative or fundamentalist who herself does not watch the films she condemns? Oh, and it is also apostrophes, not just periods, you’re hoarding.

SaltHarvest
SaltHarvest
reply to  Beowulf
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 10:06pm

It’s not the case with the concerned company, but some people do not actually watch the movie before pronouncing judgement.

Other people may remember ‘different’ films and lose track of certain details (or possibly cognitive dissonance).

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  SaltHarvest
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 12:58am

subtle

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Victoria Plum
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 10:11pm

I can’t even read this.

Punctuation: It’s a Thing!

SaltHarvest
SaltHarvest
reply to  Victoria Plum
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 10:08pm

Good to know, but this post was a slog nonetheless.

Victoria Plum
Victoria Plum
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 6:05pm

just one more point you disliked this but liked Dracula untold wtf?

Rod Ribeiro
Rod Ribeiro
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 7:33pm

Girls weren’t allowed to have sex in the 80s, and if they did, they were sluts.

Isn’t that more like the 60s?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Rod Ribeiro
Fri, Feb 27, 2015 11:03pm

It’s pretty much all the decades.

GenevaX
GenevaX
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 2:23am

I thought this movie actually bothered to develop nuanced, interesting characters, and the threat here is the same for both genders, both of which are unusual for this kind of teen scream horror. And while it follows the current trend of playing around with retro horror tropes, my sense was that the film is more about the fear of sex than it is about how sex should be feared – an important distinction, and one that does differentiate it from a lot of the more prudish 70s and 80s films it riffs on. The movie is the masterpiece some people are claiming it is, or even the best of the current crop of meta-retro-horror flicks, but this review feels more reductive than the film did in its reading of gender and sexuality.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  GenevaX
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 9:35am

Yes, it’s well crafted. I didn’t find it scary, but I generally don’t find movies labeled “horror” scary. It’s not a stupid movie. But it’s still not saying anything new or interesting. I didn’t particularly enjoy spending time with these characters. I didn’t find them particularly nuanced: they are all about getting away from their boogeyman.

I was not engaged. Sorry.

GenevaX
GenevaX
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 11:46am

You don’t have to apologize for not being engaged. That’s relative. I’m interested in horror, (I don’t know if I’d go so far as to categorize myself as a ‘fan’) but, I found this review to be lazy and uncritical.

The characters weren’t strictly about “getting away from the boogeyman”; and even if they were, teens are typically all about avoiding unpleasantness. I don’t know if it’s saying anything new, necessarily, but it isn’t cliched. “Not finding ‘horror’ scary”, to me, either means that you only watch sub-par examples of the genre, or you fancy yourself too superior to assess them like any other film. Either way, why bother reviewing a film like this?

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  GenevaX
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 3:22pm

I don’t see how a person who thinks there are “better critics” than the author of a particular review is a “necessary voice” in the discussion of that review. Unless, of course, a variety of opinions and viewpoints actually adds to the discussion. No, that can’t be it.

It’s your site, though.

How magnanimous of you to point that out.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  GenevaX
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 5:06pm

I suspect my voice is welcome to people who share my taste in scary movies.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  GenevaX
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 6:46pm

better critics than you

You have every right to say this, of course, and MaryAnn has had much worse things said about her. Still, your comment makes me think of how much people think they can get away with saying, when they forget that there’s a real person on the other side of the screen. Would you go up to an artist exhibiting her work and tell her to her face, “I’ve seen better artists than you”?

And by “better critics,” do you actually mean “critics I agree with”?

I congratulate you, though, for a perfectly constructed passive-aggressive comment.

Sam
Sam
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 3:01am

So you’re focusing this entire review on the fact that the movie revolves around sex? You didn’t even go slightly in depth to ANYTHING ELSE other than that one point. And if a movie has one insignificant similarity to another movie (i.e. people are dying, so it’s obviously a ripoff of Final Destination), then it’s unoriginal?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Sam
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 9:36am

Yup, that’s exactly what I’ve written!

Kaitlyn Kline
Kaitlyn Kline
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 3:26am

Forgive me, but I’m confused. Why is it that only one line in this entire blog post actually refers to the film itself, while the rest is just commentary about its concept? Why did you spend several paragraphs of this blog post making snide jabs at the horror genre’s admittedly-dry fixation on the 1980s and slamming the film for being sexist to women, but only use one line to actually talk about what film critics are supposed to talk about?

Seriously. No joke, no sarcasm, I’m genuinely asking. Why did you spend an entire film review nitpicking the concept without going into detail about why it doesn’t work, or how it falls apart in the context of the film?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Kaitlyn Kline
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 9:37am

What are film critics “supposed” to say?

Kaitlyn Kline
Kaitlyn Kline
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 6:22pm

They’re “supposed” to talk about more than just one aspect of a film.

Roger Ebert famously said, “it’s not what a movie’s about, but how it’s about it”, meaning you can’t just blast a film’s concept because you don’t like it. You have to go into more detail than that.

As someone who adores movies, talking about movies, and analyzing movies, I find myself a bit bothered that you don’t even try. You have a spot on Rotten Tomatoes, MaryAnn, you have to show that you deserve it. Otherwise, you’re just a blogger with status.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Kaitlyn Kline
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 8:17pm

This is how I write. This is how I do film criticism. If it’s not to your taste, there are literally hundreds of other critics you can turn to.

I agree with Ebert, and I have quoted that very quote before at this site. And this review is very much in keeping with it. I am not “blasting” the film’s “concept” because I “don’t like it.” I am saying that the film is not interesting in how it goes about being about it!

Kaitlyn Kline
Kaitlyn Kline
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 9:14pm

Well, to your credit, you have elaborated on your opinion of the film’s mechanics in the comments here, so I will give you that.

But as a suggestion, which you can feel free to take or leave, you should still try to talk about different aspects of a film when you review it. It’s strange, too, because other reviews of yours (such as for The Babadook, 2014’s own breakout horror film) were much more descriptive. So you clearly have the talent and the capability of going in-depth, but something about It Follows must have rubbed you the wrong way to cause you to really linger on the concept.

Constable
Constable
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 3:53am

So, does the movie have a compelling plot and not rely on “jumpscares?” I get that the premise is stupid but is there anything fresh about this film? I’m not talking 97% fresh, just compared to other current horror movies.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Constable
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 9:39am

The plot is not particularly compelling, and the film really drags — it feels much longer than it is (and it’s not overly long). It doesn’t rely on jumpscares. That’s part of why I gave it a yellow light and not a red one.

Constable
Constable
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 5:06am

Okay thanks for replying, if it makes it’s way onto Netflix I may watch it. It sounds like some effort went into it at least, I’ve been pretty disappointed with the horror genera lately.

Eric Hoheisel
Eric Hoheisel
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 4:11am

Aside from the political aspects of the story, would you say it is a skillfully made scare machine?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Eric Hoheisel
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 9:38am

It’s skillfully made, but I did not find it particularly scary.

a
a
reply to  Eric Hoheisel
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 12:22pm

To each his own, in my case, I was bored to death in critically acclaimed horror flick *The Babadook*. It’s more of what kind of horror you’re inclined to that will get you engrossed.. I haven’t seen *It Follows* yet, but the trailer’s promising.

Tedley
Tedley
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 9:38am

Sorry, I think you’ve entirely missed both the point and the filmmaking ingenuity at hand.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Tedley
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 5:02pm

I’m not generally looking for filmmaking ingenuity. I want a story and characters I care about. That’s it.

a
a
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 5:10pm

Although your standards may seem low, unfortunately we rarely have genuine human beings and original stories in films nowadays. We need more of these.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  a
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 8:05pm

My standards may seem *low*? Explain, please.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 10:17pm

I think “a” means that while the things you’re looking for — “a story and characters I care about” — seem like simple requirements that *should* be easily met, in fact they’re rarer than might be expected.

a
a
reply to  Bluejay
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 2:00pm

What he said.

Tedley
Tedley
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 8:00pm

Those are definitely core elements of many great movies, totally agree, but I think a well-rounded critique – and an appreciation for film in general – should include a care for more than just characterisation and plot. I definitely support a feminist agenda, but I think in this case it may have clouded your assessment of the movie. But thank you for your interpretation. :-)

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Tedley
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 1:07am

I do care about more than character and plot. But craft cannot make up for the lack of character and plot that appeal to me.

Tedley
Tedley
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 8:41am

Fair enough – you know what you like :-) Just out of interest, what horror movies do you rate highly?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Tedley
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 8:58am

Well, just recently, *The Babadook* was one of the best movies of 2014.

JC
JC
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 1:22pm

I’m sorry, Mary, but I agree with Geneva X that your argument is more than a little reductive. Indeed, I’m concerned that you’re playing “I spy misogyny.” (I know this is your clearly stated objective.)

Your thesis — that It Follows problematises female sexuality, and that the filmmakers seek to gloss over this difficulty by being “retro” or referential — can be complicated in a number of ways.

To start with, the gender dynamics and sexual politics depicted are more nuanced and complex than your analysis suggests. As others point out, the curse is gender inclusive, though we can go further than noting that “boys can catch it, too.”

Without including spoilers, the film posits questions about sex as social transaction in ways that upset straightforward gender hierarchies. There are ambiguities throughout with regard to who is being exploited, to what end, and where the balance of power lies.

In addition, there are two ellipses that force us to speculate on whether the curse was passed on, the nature of the exchange, missing narrative elements and the psychological and physical implications for all involved, building on the ambiguities outlined above. Moreover, It Follows touches on issues of political economy, class and female exploitation in ways that function as wider social critique. This film is about far more than gender, despite the fact that gender concerns are inevitably bound up with wider social and political considerations.

Secondly, it’s problematic to view Maika Monroe’s character as a cipher for women. At a fundamental level, the film is about young adulthood (a specific period in all of our lives) and traumatic sexual awakening. In this regard, its themes transcend gender distinctions and speak to universal experiences. Such a psychoanalytic reading is coded in the title — what follows (subtextually) is not a true demon or curse, but the legacy of our transition to adulthood. Certainly there’s more going on here in terms of irrepressible sexuality and recognition of one’s mortality, but my central point about young adulthood and shared or common experience stands.

On the question of “what follows,” we might also consider genre tropes. The slasher conventions you refer to are typically depictions of male on female violence, often through point of view shots that may replicate the male gaze (this is an outmoded position, but I’ll let it stand for simplicity’s sake). However, the “it” of the title is a) never represented through point of view, moving insidiously in and out of frame; and b) genderless, or at least switches gender regularly.

Finally, the film is certainly postmodern/meta/referential, but more subtly so that most recent horror efforts.

There’s more going on here than unimaginative nods to other movies. The filmmakers purposefully confuse iconography from multiple decades (not just the 1980s and present day) to lend It Follows a mythic, timeless quality. This point alone rather undercuts your claim that the filmmakers use referentiality to dodge responsibility for misogynistic representation. Further, the film’s mythic quality opens spaces for multiple identifications. For instance, whilst Jay’s experiences are extreme, one can identify with her character on some level irrespective of gender.

As several others have commented, you’ve said little about the craft on display; and while this has little to do with discussion of gender, the film, in my view, is virtually flawless in terms of composition.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  JC
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 3:16pm

Indeed, I’m concerned that you’re playing “I spy misogyny.”

You know when people usually stop playing “I Spy”? When they start having to actually look hard to find things.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  JC
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 5:05pm

Craft is secondary to plot and character in my criticism, and my enjoyment of a movie.

Everything you say sounds really interesting. I wish I saw it in the film the way you did.

JC
JC
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 6:22pm

But that would mean working to counter your acknowledged bias; an impossible objective for anybody, yet still one worth striving for, intellectually and critically.

If you look for evidence to bolster an existing position, you’ll inevitably find it.

With regard to craft, film is of course a language; a series of techniques and formal conventions that communicate the narrative and character elements you focus on.

If alternative techniques had been applied the film would become a different text, with different meanings, at every level.

In short, craft, narrative and character are inseparable and cannot be considered in isolation.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  JC
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 8:15pm

Well, by your own argument, it is entirely possible that your own biases are standing in the way of you seeing the film in any way other than the way you have.

Thanks for the condescension.

CJ
CJ
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 9:49pm

I endeavour to acknowledge my own biases.

I’m not even seeking to disprove your argument in absolute terms, though I think there are aspects of composition and subtext that muddle your position, which is both unequivocal and extremely forthright.

Of course It’s easier to accuse me of condescension than to engage directly with my observations on the film.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 3:14pm

I feel like this page is being inundated with either: bookish 15-20 year olds who have never engaged with film criticism before; or, friends of the filmmakers (or the filmmakers themselves) freaking out over their fist negative-ish review.

Seriously, people, this movie failed to engage MAJ on one issue, from which every other problem stemmed. I’m sure you’re much too intellectual to ever base an opinion on one key aspect, but for the rest if us mere mortals, that’s a completely normal reaction.

a
a
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 5:07pm

“I feel like this page is being inundated with either: bookish 15-20 year
olds who have never engaged with film criticism before; or, friends of
the filmmakers (or the filmmakers themselves) freaking out over their
fist negative-ish review.”

You can stop poisoning the well with hasty generalizations now. They disagree with the reviewer. I do see what they’re going at, because the reviewer only aped one aspect of the film in her review, true, all reviews must have focus however, I feel like the commenters are upset that the review is too focused on something that wouldn’t necessarily make a horror flick ineffective. Some others seem to be annoyed that she’s condemned four 100% movies (aka Kingsman when reviews were fresh, Duke of Burgundy, Catch me Daddy and this one) and perhaps they are fans of the said films and wanted their freshness to be maintained.

Just my two cents. Regards,

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  a
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 6:51pm

This is what I’m talking about. This kind of obsession with RT scores, from people who’s language skills* indicate they should know better, is really childish. Do you know why RT indicates a “Fresh” rating for a score as low as 60%? Because 1) all RT ratings are binary (even an extremely tepid recommendation can get a “fresh”); and 2) that final score is just a general consensus (i.e. for a “Fresh” film, significantly more critics are generally positive about the movie than are generally negative).

Also, not only are you philosophically incorrect about RT scores, you’re factually incorrect about what MAJ’s reviews have done.

*though I do question your usage of “poison the well”, “aped”, and “condemned”.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  a
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 8:05pm

wanted their freshness to be maintained

In what universe is that a reasonable thing to want?

a
a
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 4:26am

In their universe.

JC
JC
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 5:21pm

Well, I’m considerably older that 15-20, I’m certainly bookish. I have engaged with film criticism before.

I’m happy for MAJ to focus on one aspect of representation in her review; I just find her reading superficial and prescriptive.

If your objective is to seek out misogyny wherever you look, then guess what, you’ll see misogny wherever you look. But I think the reviewer’s criticism is misplaced in this instance.

Returning to the subject of “the gaze,” there’s a scene early on in which Maika Monroe floats in the backyard pool. As the scene begins Monroe is framed in middle distance stripping down to her swimsuit, before climbing a ladder to enter the water.

One could argue that the camera replicates the male gaze here and that, yes, this plays to early Mulveyan invocations of Freud and scopophilia (before Mulvey reviewed her position and wrote “Afterthoughts”). What happens in the scene thereafter is worth noting, however.

As Jay floats she spots two younger boys spying on her through the hedge. At this moment the boys, ashamed by being spotted, duck out of sight. The gaze is inverted and the power dynamics shift, clearly signified by Monroe’s expression.

One could riff on this scene and observe that boys are socialised to feel ashamed of their sexuality. Thus, if “females are punished for their sexuality,” as MAJ asserts, males can be punished, too.

But such an observation doesn’t fit MAJ’s analysis, so it’s best not to mention it. What we get instead is a soundbyte review, in whch the writer must neglect other aspects of representation to service a prior objective.

And to clarify my position, I’ll stand shoulder-to-shoulder with MAJ on any feminist issue, on or offline; I just think she’s wrong about this film.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  JC
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 7:08pm

“If your objective is to seek out misogyny wherever you look, then guess what, you’ll see misogny wherever you look.”

Something something superficial and prescriptive.

Mulvey? Really? Am I supposed to be impressed?

“that boys are socialised to feel ashamed of their sexuality.”

Except that they’re not. Not the way girls are.

Also, if David Mitchell had wanted to subvert or invert the standard Sex is Evil tropes here, he could have, easily.

“But such an observation doesn’t fit MAJ’s analysis, so it’s best not to mention it. What we get instead is a soundbyte review, in whch the writer must neglect other aspects of representation to service a prior objective.”

With all due respect to bluejay’s response to GenevaX, this right here is the most perfect passive-aggressive comment on the thread.

JC
JC
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 9:21pm

No, you’re not supposed to be impressed by reference to “Visual Pleasure,” since this is the most commonly cited source in film studies.

And that’s my point. It’s easy to cry misogyny when working with obsolete theory (or no theory at all); and easier still when demonstrating zero interest in details that might complicate your preconceptions.

I get that I’m a guest on here and I appreciate your efforts to mark your territory; but you know nothing of me, what I do, or my knowledge of film (and indeed feminist) theory.

I could be a fraud invoking the one film studies article I’ve read; or I might be an academic who has spent decades assimilating literature on film.

You’ve nevertheless presumed a level of naivete and incompetence on my part.

We could have a lengthy discussion on website politics, hierarchies and taste cultures, though I’m not sure you’d enjoy it much. If you’re unfamiliar you could start with Kate Egan’s article on “Nasty” fans. You’d need to work through Bourdieu and Thornton first, and literature on cult sensibilities and distinctions. (Mathijs and Mendik’s reader is extremely helpful and includes the Introduction to Distinction.) The point is that I’m not impressed by virtual fist shaking and crude derision.

Rather than seeking to mock you, I’ll assume that you’ve read Grant’s edited collection The Dread of Difference, which contains several essays that get to the heart of my concerns about discourses on gender and horror.

Clover’s work on this subject is pertinent, though as I’m sure you’re aware, this literature is far from new.

One final note, in my experience, people who have earned the title Dr. tend not to introduce themselves this way.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  JC
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 9:25pm

“You’ve nevertheless presumed a level of naivete and incompetence on my part.”

I can only work with what I got, pal.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  JC
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 1:09am

This is not a film studies site. Perhaps you have mistaken it for one.

jc
jc
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 1:11am

I haven’t; are you saying academic commentary isn’t welcome here? If so, why?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  jc
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 8:56am

You can talk like an academic, but you’re not going to get much traction here. When you say things like “early Mulveyan invocations of Freud,” you’re excluding everyone who hasn’t read Mulvey. Which will be most people here, I suspect, because this isn’t a film studies site. And *I* don’t care what Mulvey says or thinks! I care about *my own* reaction to a film. I am not interested in having dry discussions about what other people think. I want to share how a movie makes me feel and hear how it makes others feel.

So. How does *It Follows* make you *feel*? What was your visceral response to it?

JC
JC
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 9:56am

I really haven’t talked like an academic on here and it’s a shame you find my observations dry.

Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure” is well known outside of academic contexts; and people don’t need to have read Mulvey (or other literature on film and gender) to engage with my points on It Follows.

This will inevitably sound snarky, or be perceived as such by other members, but I’d argue that a feminist film critic should take an active interest in what feminist film scholars have to say. Academia remains a bastion of feminist activity. Solidarity and all that.

As for my visceral response to It Follows, I found it a supremely effective and well crafted suspense piece.

I engaged with points of feminist criticism because that’s the focus of your review (and website more generally). I find it strange that such discussion is so fiercely resisted on a forum such as this.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  JC
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 1:22pm

Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure” is well known outside of academic contexts

I’ve never heard of it. My friends and family and I are mostly college-educated and mostly inclined towards the liberal arts, and that text has never come up in conversation. Perhaps it’s not as familiar outside of academic film-studies contexts as you assume.

JC
JC
reply to  Bluejay
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 3:30pm

“Perhaps it’s not as familiar outside of academic film-studies contexts as you assume.”

Maybe, but the good Doctor sought to mock my naivete when referencing Mulvey and associated texts/arguments. To quote:

“Mulvey? Really? Am I supposed to be impressed?”

In fact, Dr. Rocketscience sought to belittle me beforehand; to be specific, straight after my first comment. As he stated:

“You know when people usually stop playing ‘I Spy’? When they start having to actually look hard to find things.”

Maybe I’m misreading his post, but I can only assume he’s suggesting I lack the requisite skills and application to conduct informed textual analysis.

And that’s when things became more hostile. As a perceived dissenter my card was marked from the beginning.

Below you state that my first post was snide and condescending; but you didn’t quote my first post at all, in which I worked through points that, in my view, complicated MAJ’s assertions.

You’ll perhaps accuse me of passive aggression and character flaws again. I could cite a number of examples of naked aggression and more direct insult. We could go around in circles.

I first posted on this thread because I disagree with MAJ’s review and I wanted to offer alternative commentary. I appreciate fully that you haven’t seen It Follows and therefore can’t respond directly to my observations.

At the same time, it’d be nice if somebody could address my points rather than trying to shout me down with “you’re stupid” comments. That’s all I ask.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  JC
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 8:08pm

One could riff on this scene and observe that boys are socialised to feel ashamed of their sexuality.

Only if you consider spying on a woman an appropriate expression of male sexuality.

JC
JC
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 10:21pm

But everybody looks, Mary. That’s what we do as sexual beings, for good or ill.

Stating that it’s inappropriate for boys to express sexual curiosity cuts to the heart of the issue — it problematises male sexuality in precisely the way I observed above.

And don’t worry, I’ve little inclination to continue this discussion, since neither yourself or the fake Doctor has attempted to engage with my posts in anything that constitutes adequate detail. Rather, I’ve been subjected to territorial p*ssings marking out your corner of the internet.

I’ll encroach no more. Yout territory is defended. Shutting conversation down through insult or faux outrage is more effective than debating someone who holds a contrary view. Who’d have thunk it!

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  JC
Sat, Feb 28, 2015 11:23pm

Shutting conversation down

I would venture that when you said this in your very first comment…

But such an observation doesn’t fit MAJ’s analysis, so it’s best not to mention it. What we get instead is a soundbyte review, in whch the writer must neglect other aspects of representation to service a prior objective

…that YOU were the one shutting down conversation, by preemptively concluding that MaryAnn is closed-minded and must inevitably reject your view. Your snide condescension makes it clear that you’re not REALLY interested in a genuine give-and-take debate. So why should anyone take you up on it?

Also, in my experience, people who ostentatiously name-drop scholarly works that they’ve read are secretly insecure about their own status and authority. Just something to keep in mind.

Is this territorial piss-marking? Maybe, maybe not. But plenty of commenters *have* disagreed quite strongly with MAJ in the past (including myself), and have managed to engage her in interesting and civil debates. Those commenters have tended to be *genuinely* respectful, though, coming to the conversation without a sense of spite or superiority. But that doesn’t seem to be you. And the regulars here have gotten good at sniffing it out.

JC
JC
reply to  Bluejay
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 12:39am

I’m not sure why I’m tempted back, since arguing against a community predisposed to gang up on perceived interlopers is largely futile, though I will say the following:

I referenced academic sources for two reasons:

1. The sources cited dicuss, among other things, website hierarchies, subcultural practices, and a need to assert one’s status. “Dr.” Rocketscience’s responses to my posts merely quoted me, before calling me stupid for making such claims. It would have been nice if he (I assume it’s a he) engaged with my points on It Follows, but sadly that wasn’t the case. Dr. Rocketscience clearly demonstrated behaviour explicated in the literature referenced, which is precisely why I listed these sources.

2. I referenced texts that complicate assumptions about gender and horror, since I was seeking to move past conceptions of misogyny. My views do not come out of the blue, but are considered and informed by feminist scholarship. What concerns me most are suggestions that I’m arguing against a feminist position, which was never the case. (I’ll note that nobody has stated this explictly, though some comments imply a lack of understanding on my part, since I couldn’t possibly comprehend the positions articulated.)

I’m not sure “spite” and “superiority” are accurate descriptors, though I’ll concede that I could have phrased the post you quote more diplomatically.

Finally, I’m entirely comfortable with you thinking of me as insecure. Perhaps it helps to think of me as spineless when you’re seeking to dicredit all I have to say. I mean it probably works better than engaging with my points on the film in question.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  JC
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 1:39am

arguing against a community predisposed to gang up on perceived interlopers

In my experience, the commenters who accuse this community of ganging up on them usually have martyr complexes and feel themselves to be above the level of discussion offered here. (And they usually announce some grand exit, with an assurance that they won’t return, though unsurprisingly they often do.) Dissent isn’t usually a problem here; the unpleasant attitude of the dissenter often is.

Finally, I’m entirely comfortable with you thinking of me as insecure.

Good. Because when your entire reply to me is a vigorous defense of your academic sourcing which I only mention in a fraction of my comment to you, it really looks like you are.

Perhaps it helps to think of me as spineless when you’re seeking to dicredit all I have to say. I mean it probably works better than engaging with my points on the film in question.

I’ll happily admit that I haven’t seen the film, and so I’ll let MaryAnn and others who have seen it engage with you on those points (if they feel like it). My entire problem is that you seem to come to this conversation already predisposed to snideness and passive aggression. As the bit I’ve quoted above clearly shows.

jc
jc
reply to  Bluejay
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 9:13am

“I’ll happily admit that I haven’t seen the film, and so I’ll let MaryAnn and others who have seen it engage with you on those points (if they feel like it).”

Clearly they don’t. I can only speculate as to why. You’ll perhaps enjoy telling me.

Where I come from supporting claims through reference to authoritative resources is a necessity rather than failing. I’m sorry you find such citation objectionable.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  jc
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 1:12pm

*whistles* Did you graduate with honors from the Passive Aggressive School? Because clearly you’re a master at this. Kudos.

This isn’t a scientific journal. We’re not building on the research of others, or defending our work in front of our professional peers. We’re just here, presumably, to informally discuss films and how they make US feel — and when our “claims” are simply our personal responses, then appealing to academic “authorities” to back up those responses may feel superfluous. We can always bring in our learning and background, of course; but there’s a way to do it that feels inclusive (i.e. actually explaining the ideas that the “authoritative resources” talk about) and a way to do it that feels exclusive (i.e. name-dropping to show off how much one knows). It’s not what you do; it’s how you do it.

But hey, I’m not the boss of you. You can talk however you want. But if others find you off-putting, perhaps it’s worth wondering why, and examining whether the fault lies entirely with those who criticize you.

JC
JC
reply to  Bluejay
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 3:42pm

It takes at least two to argue; and I’d respectfully guide you to my original post above (rather than the post you think is my first), in which I do precisely as you ask and explain my position on the film in detail (and without citation).

It begins “I’m sorry, Mary, but I agree with Geneva X…”

As I responded above, my objective was simply to offer an alternative perspective on the film, in a way that I hoped would stimulate productive discussion. However, I was mocked from the outset, responded somewhat in kind, and things degenerated from there.

If someone wants to engage with my observations on It Follows I’ll gladly engage in return.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  JC
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 7:06pm

I’d respectfully guide you to my original post

In which the first thing you say is that you think MAJ is playing “I spy misogyny,” suggesting that she’s working hard to see something that isn’t there. Not the most diplomatic opening for a guest post. But never mind; MAJ does not mock you from the outset and does engage with you, politely if briefly, by saying: “Craft is secondary to plot and character in my criticism… Everything you say sounds really interesting. I wish I saw it in the film the way you did.” To which you then suggest that she’s not interested in working to counter her bias, and that she’s merely looking for evidence to bolster her existing position. Again, not exactly a non-antagonistic sentiment. So if you’re sad that the collective mood here has turned sour against you, you’ve only got yourself to blame.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  Bluejay
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 7:07pm

Italics fail. My bad.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  JC
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 1:53am

I’m not sure why I’m tempted back, since arguing against a community predisposed to gang up on perceived interlopers is largely futile

Oh, lordy. All your work, shot to hell in a twenty-two word tantrum.
Tell you what? I’ll go unroll my eyes, while you go grow up.
Should take about the same amount of time.

JC
JC
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 9:00am

Again, thanks for your rigorous examination of my commentary.

This time you’ve really addressed my observations on the film. That’s quite a relief, since your earlier posts simply quoted mine and accused me of being a stupid child.

My posts have been considerably more respectful than community responses, though apparently I’m the juvenile in this conversation.

As a general point, growing up is a considerably longer process than eye-rolling. It’s a strange comparison, but let’s not concern ourselves with logical consistency.

Wait a minute, what’s that you say? You’d appreciate some logical consistency in my posts, or some other observation on my psychological or intellectual deficiencies.

I’ll certainly reflect on community members’ scalpel-like dissection of my arguments and character. I’ve learned a great deal, about both feminism and myself. Thanks for the education.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  JC
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 2:15pm

Is it possible to ask for a moratorium on the personal insults, from both sides? There may initially have been some value in suggesting that one person was being condescending, or that someone else was being evasive (I “upvoted” a few of those comments), but this discussion no longer has much to do with the movie, feminism, or MaryAnn’s review. I’m not sure it’s productive to keep arguing about how to argue, and I’m afraid the conversation is going to degenerate into “Well, he started it!”

SaltHarvest
SaltHarvest
reply to  Danielm80
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 10:53pm

Seems unlikely.

JC
JC
reply to  Bluejay
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 1:02am

Oh, and that quote isn’t from my first post, which is further up. Maybe you could read it.

Beowulf
Beowulf
reply to  JC
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 3:38pm

Who is “Mary”? This is MaryAnn’s site.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Beowulf
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 5:39pm

And yet I’m the one who can’t see what’s in front of my face…

JC
JC
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 6:06pm

Yep, I got your name wrong, MaryAnn. It was my mistake and I apologise.

You could at the very least admit that you’re seeking to discredit everything I’ve said with one sweeping generalisation.

You’re also twisting my words to suggest a level of personal insult that isn’t evident in my posts. At no point have I said anything as forthright as “you can’t see what’s in front of your face.”

What a genuinely unpleasant corner of the internet you’ve created. It’s fine for regulars to issue personal insult, though “guests” are held to very different standards.

I can’t think of another website where the “host” threatens to “laugh and point” at others at the top of their reviews; yet I’m the “condescending” one.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  JC
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 7:10pm

I can’t think of another website where the “host” threatens to “laugh and point” at others

The context, you are missing it. And if you’re putting “host” in sarcasm quotes, you ARE the condescending one.

What a genuinely unpleasant corner of the internet you’ve created.

Luke: “What’s in there?”
Yoda: “Only what you take with you.”

JC
JC
reply to  Bluejay
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 8:32pm

Luke: “What’s in there?”
Yoda: “Only what you take with you.”

You can’t honestly believe that I’m the source of all antagonism on this website and thread.

That’s hardly a balanced assessment, but so be it. I tried to engage with you in a civil manner on more than one occasion today, though you seem far from willing to respond similarly.

Maybe we could have found some common ground, but that’s tough if you jump to insult in every single response and look for patronising subtext in my every comment.

I’ll let you have the final word or this could go on forever. And nobody wants that, myself included. It’d be nice if you could say something vaguely conciliatory, so not to end on such a sour note.

As I stated above, it takes two to argue. I’ll admit that I played my part and used language that at times slipped into veiled insult. I apologise.

At the same time, member responses were often disproportionately nasty and abusive and my first post was nothing like as antagonistic as you claim.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  JC
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 10:23pm

It’d be nice if you could say something vaguely conciliatory, so not to end on such a sour note.

You know what? Okay. I’ve scrapped a couple of snarky responses to your comment, and I’ll just say this: The Internet is a tough place, full of strong opinions and misunderstandings, and without all the contextual cues of a face-to-face conversation it’s all too easy to believe the worst of someone. I berated someone on a different thread for forgetting that there’s a real person on the other side of the screen; perhaps I should remind myself of that here. You may not be as unpleasant as you seem online; and by the same token, perhaps those you’ve engaged with here are not as unpleasant as we may have seemed to you.

Be good and do good, out there in your real life. Peace.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  JC
Wed, Mar 04, 2015 2:07pm

This has been bugging me…yeah, everyone looks, but not everyone spys. What they were wasn’t ashamed of their sexuality but ashamed for being caught spying.

Not Jim
Not Jim
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 12:05am

God forbid a horror movie feature horrible things right, the monster should have murdered anti-feminists and then high-fived the ghost of Betty Friedan

kyle
kyle
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 6:23pm

This review comes off more as what you think of the slasher movie genre in general and less about an individual film. I hate the way most writers and directors picture college kids as dumb drunks that don’t have the common sense to run away from a situation instead of sticking around. That opinion doesn’t stop me from enjoying the plot and a well shot movie. As for the sex equals death aspect to me the sex part of the film is more of a means to pass this curse on. To you this idea sounds dated to me it’s no more dated then being bitten, using witchcraft, or voodoo which all have been used in films for decades. If the point of a review is to give me insight on whether or not I would enjoy the movie or if it’s worth the money. I would have to say this review fails at doing that.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  kyle
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 7:51am

How can I possibly predict if *you* will enjoy a movie? I can only share *my* response to it.

Rod Ribeiro
Rod Ribeiro
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 10:50am

If Netflix can, you can too! You’d need a million dollars and a couple dozen programmers, though. Maybe Kyle would like to contribute?

kyle
kyle
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 6:37pm

I wasn’t asking you to predict if I would enjoy the movie. All I’m asking for is some perspective about it so I could make a choice whether or not to see it. Instead what I got was you focusing on one detail about the entire film you didn’t like. You are a movie “critic” right? I mean after reading your review I don’t really grasp anything about the movie other then you feel like the main character is being objectified. Not to mention, for someone who criticizes other people’s work for a living you seem a little thin skinned. I’ve read many of your responses to other posts and you come of as snarky and entitled. I know there are some pretty dumb posts on here calling you out but aren’t you the professional that’s suppose to take the higher road. A review is a person’s own opinion and I don’t fault you for yours. I just wished you had conveyed it a little better that’s all.

SaltHarvest
SaltHarvest
reply to  kyle
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 6:42pm

Sounds good enough to watch for me (despite the lukewarm yellow).

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  kyle
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 7:11pm

I hear that John Wilkes Booth gave a great performance in Our American Cousin, but all the critics focused on that one moment at the end when he broke character.

Beal
Beal
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Mar 10, 2015 8:04pm

dafuqqqqq

SaltHarvest
SaltHarvest
Sun, Mar 01, 2015 9:13pm

An apparition that uses human vessels for nourishment. Let me add that to the list…

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 10:35pm

Part of me wants to know what on earth it is in this movie (and in Kingsmen) that has brought out such anger. But, then again, the rest of me knows I really don’t have time to spend on finding out.

What a lot of comments. It might get to The Sapphires’ thread length. Or was it Horton Hears a Who that was so long?

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  LaSargenta
Mon, Mar 02, 2015 11:31pm

I’ve been wondering the same thing. I bet we could come up with a mathematical system to predict the number of comments. We could make a chart: A movie with a lot of nudity would get a lot of points, and it would get even more if the film also has extreme violence. Any movie based on a book would get points if the book has a devoted fan base (bonus points if it’s by Mark Millar). A religious movie would get lots of points (but probably from a different group of people than the other films). And there would be a special set of points when MaryAnn ruins a film’s 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 12:57am

That doesn’t account for the hundreds of comments on that Sapphires thread, I think it was the one about the DVD box.

But, otherwise, yes. And a children’s movie. Those get a lot of people excited. Sometimes even me!

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 1:34am

If you say anything about race on the Internet, you’ll get flooded with comments from people trying to prove they’re not racist. Most of those comments are incredibly racist. The New York Times printed some editorials about subconscious racism last month, and a lot of people explained that discrimination is perfectly sensible, because African-Americans are disproportionately responsible for a large amount of crime, so discrimination isn’t racist.

What’s the expression? Oh, right. *Headdesk*

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 2:15am

So we’ve got race, children’s stories, nudity, violence and films based on books.

I think the Venn Diagram is going to be one big circle. Or our algorithm is going to be
http://youtu.be/ANoTdbZVVuw

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 2:39am

If they were all in the same film, it would be the longest discussion thread of all time.

But I would definitely watch that film.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 4:39pm

I think that would be a film by Ingmar Bergman.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 4:55pm
David Wilkinson
David Wilkinson
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 3:06am

I don’t get why anyone would be really angry at this movie. Sure I get someone not liking the sex=death theme (to each their own). It’s not like they remade “I Spit on your grave”….anger at that I would understand.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  David Wilkinson
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 3:09am

She’s not talking about MaryAnn’s reaction to the movie. She’s talking about all the angry commenters attacking MaryAnn for her review.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 12:09pm

Also, as I said on the other thread, she appears to get a strong reaction when she seems to be taking away a forbidden pleasure. If a movie says, “You can watch graphic sex scenes, because this is art,” or, “You can watch a violent horror movie, because it got 100% approval on Rotten Tomatoes,” people really don’t want to hear that they’re sexist for enjoying it.

But the thread that got the strongest reaction was probably Avatar: The Last Airbender, which doesn’t seem to fit the pattern at all.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 2:51pm

That’s right, Airbender’s thread was long.

Well, whatevs. I guess these people think its important.

Gotta run, hun’. See ya round.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 3:11pm

What I find fascinating is the gesturing toward intellectualism in what is unequivocally an emotional reaction. MAJ isn’t taking anything away, she isn’t even calling anyone anything for watching. (And of course, anyone can enjoy problematic art, with various degrees of self-awareness.) But it feels like that’s what she’s saying, so they’re angry. But instead of dealing with those feelings, they try to cover it in a veneer of logical analysis. This inevitably peeks through in the form of condescension and name-calling.*

Just look at one of the most recent guests, David Talisman:

I disagree. If I was to take any message from this it’s that the female characters respect the danger of STD’s more than males.

OK, so far so good, as arguments go. Let’s see if he elaborates:

I find your view at once reductive and contrived.

Now, what the hell does this add to the conversation, or even his argument? Nothing. But I imagine it makes David feel better to say it. It’s an emotional response, but he tries to coat it in intellectualism.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with having an emotional response. This is, after all, a blog devoted to art criticism. But for fucks sake, don’t try hide it. Deal with it. Preferably on your own time.

*Yes, I’m aware that I’m occasionally guilty of this myself. Bring it on, motherfuckers.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Dr. Rocketscience
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 4:36pm

Occasionally?
o_O

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 4:44pm

Sometimes, I’m asleep.

Dr. Rocketscience
Dr. Rocketscience
reply to  Danielm80
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 3:13pm

Also, the Airbender thread is bog standard nerdrage.

SaltHarvest
SaltHarvest
reply to  LaSargenta
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 4:10pm

A degree a popularity and the (mis)perception that MaryAnn isn’t joining in the fun for spurious reasons.

David Talisman
David Talisman
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 8:40am

I disagree. If I was to take any message from this it’s that the female characters respect the danger of STD’s more than males. I find your view at once reductive and contrived.

Neal
Neal
Tue, Mar 03, 2015 1:34pm

This film is not sexist. Anyone who has sex, male or female, has to deal with the consequences. As the other commenter said below, my girlfriend is also an unabashed and stick to her guns feminist. She never waivers. She does not see this flaw in the film. As for the whole sick of retro filmmaking thing, and the constant criticisms young film makers have endured lately regarding that, name a time in the last 4 decades at least when people weren’t doing that. Remember Chinatown? Half the Cohen Brothers movies? All of the detective noir films, and the obvious Hitchcock homages. It’s nothing new or specific to this generation. People have always longed for the past during which they weren’t alive or old enough to fully enjoy it. Take Midnight in Paris as a great example of this. Disclaimer: I think Woody Allen is a creep, but so is Roman Polanski, and there is no way I’m ever going to say I don’t like Chinatown because of that. Art is art.

Sam
Sam
Wed, Mar 04, 2015 2:06pm

The “fear of sex” thing is about adolescent nervousness around losing virginity/STDs, right? I don’t think any kind of moral panic around female looseness comes into it. As others have pointed out, the characters are constantly encouraged to have more sex in order to pass the thing on.

You might see it as old hat for cinematic subject matter but young people will always be worried about sex. So movies dealing with that will probably crop up now and again.

“Girls weren’t allowed to have sex in the 80s, and if they did, they were sluts. If they wanted it, they deserved to die.”

This really isn’t anywhere in the film.

jensen
jensen
Wed, Mar 04, 2015 4:58pm

This misses the entire point of the movie, it’s a commentary on the perception that having sex “marks” you. The Guest was also a phenomenal movie, do you just have something against throwbacks?

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  jensen
Wed, Mar 04, 2015 9:09pm

We clearly have different ideas about what “phenomenal” means.

james
james
Thu, Mar 05, 2015 4:16pm

although I havn’t seen it yet, and would really like to, I don’t think the film is meant to “punish girls for having sex” but rather to be a metaphore for the fear and apprehension surrounding sex and sexuality in adolescence. I might be wrong, but I might also suggest it’s not healthy for said fear and anxiety to bash the films trying to explore the film in a genuinely interesting and original way. just saying.

Bluejay
Bluejay
reply to  james
Thu, Mar 05, 2015 5:15pm

How do you know it’s genuinely interesting and original, if you haven’t seen it? Why not see it first and THEN form your opinion?

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  Bluejay
Thu, Mar 05, 2015 6:30pm

Some movies are much better when you haven’t seen them. I loved the first Matrix sequel until I saw it.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  james
Thu, Mar 05, 2015 7:56pm

I say fear and apprehension is due to abstinence-only sex ed. Sex is fun. Like any physical activity, it does require a little knowledge to reduce associated risks. Personally, I wear a helmet when playing hockey, for instance. I also wouldn’t get on the ice if I had a sprained ankle. Likewise, I don’t have sex if I’m not healthy in the contact zones and I use protection.

The fear is socially imposed by messed up attitudes.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  LaSargenta
Thu, Mar 05, 2015 8:27pm

And really cautious people wear a helmet while they’re having sex. Or maybe that’s some sort of fetish.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  Danielm80
Thu, Mar 05, 2015 9:05pm

It is a rich and varied world…

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  james
Thu, Mar 05, 2015 8:32pm

If you haven’t seen the film yet, how can you speak to what it’s about or how it’s about it?

PMC
PMC
Fri, Mar 06, 2015 3:33am

Quite possibly the most obnoxious, angry female film reviewer I’ve sever seen. Using ones ideological foundation to critique a film, instead of the editing, cinematography, directing, acting, et al, is more suited for the Op Eds. But, it may get you some dates on the lesbian dating sites.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  PMC
Fri, Mar 06, 2015 8:45am

Oh, dear, I’m so very sorry for upsetting you, sir. Shall I get into the kitchen and make you a sandwich? How else can I make you more comfortable? You shouldn’t have to listen to angry lesbians complaining about movies! How dreadful for you.

Hey, you got, B3!

PMC
PMC
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Mar 06, 2015 4:34pm

Nah. I’m off. Silly tart.

Danielm80
Danielm80
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Fri, Mar 06, 2015 6:06pm

Also B2, along with the invisible square in the sixth row that says, “You are an old, bitter lesbian.”

I know a few old, bitter lesbians. Their critical judgment is terrific.

Bernie Gregson
Bernie Gregson
Sat, Mar 07, 2015 2:15pm

This was a fantastic film. How about leaving your gender views and man-bashing feelings behind and simply recognize that the film is very entertaining and serves its purpose for horror fans, who are what the film was meant for.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  Bernie Gregson
Sat, Mar 07, 2015 2:44pm

Sorry, my “gender views” aren’t going anywhere.

SimplyTim
SimplyTim
Sat, Mar 07, 2015 4:51pm

You judge and critique movies, saying whatever feminist crap you want…but threaten to delete comments if you don’t like them? Get over yourself, you old hag.

amanohyo
amanohyo
reply to  SimplyTim
Sat, Mar 07, 2015 5:52pm

1) This is MA’s site. You are welcome to start your own site and deposit your nuggets of manly wisdom there.

2) She typically deletes comments that have nothing of value to add to the discussion. For example, your comment and mine have nothing of significance to add and could be safely removed without disrupting the flow of ideas.

3) The regular visitors to this site come not only to read the reviews, but also because the inane, infantile blabber that inundates most other sites is not tolerated here.

4) If you aren’t a feminist, you probably aren’t going to agree with much of the content here, but as long as you engage with the ideas in the review, support your position with examples from the movie in question, don’t resort to lazy ad hominem attacks, and don’t repeat the same points ad nauseum, your comments will most likely live on. If you play your cards right, you might even get to participate in a rational discussion. I hear they can be quite a thrill.

5) I know it’s illogical, but seeing that you are a fan of Conan makes me slightly sad. I can only hope that were he to read what you wrote, he would not be a fan of you.

SimplyTim
SimplyTim
reply to  amanohyo
Sat, Mar 07, 2015 5:54pm

Good god. Nice reply. I’m sure Conan is looking down and smiling on you. Opinions are great aren’t they?

bronxbee
bronxbee
reply to  SimplyTim
Sat, Mar 07, 2015 9:14pm

get off the site then, if it upsets your delicate male ego so badly. perhaps you’re compensating for something?

SimplyTim
SimplyTim
reply to  bronxbee
Sat, Mar 07, 2015 9:46pm

You’re so right. My delicate ego and tiny penis are the reasons that I am here. not the fact that this is the internet, and I can voice my opinion just like anyone else. My original point was that it’s pretty hypocritical to have a review site, and then threaten to delete reviews of your own review, if said review doesn’t agree with your point of view. You’ve got an opinion, good for you, I’m not shutting it down. Funny though, how you only want equality if it’s in your favor.

But hey, power to the women! You are mighty and head strong, and I applaud you for your strength. Go forth and conquer the internet.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  SimplyTim
Sat, Mar 07, 2015 10:14pm

it’s pretty hypocritical to have a review site, and then threaten to delete reviews of your own review, if said review doesn’t agree with your point of view.

That would be pretty hypocritical if that’s what I had *ever* done. Which I have not. And if you’re going to throw that sort of accusation around, you had sure as hell better back it up with some evidence.

this is the internet, and I can voice my opinion just like anyone else

*This* is *not* “the Internet.” This is my site, and you will follow my rules here if you want to participate in the conversation I am hosting.

First clue for you: If you think “feminist” is an insult, you can just leave now. And if you think you’re going to hurt me by calling me an “old hag,” and that this is what passes for rational thought on your end, I can only assume that you are incapable of carrying on an adult conversation, in which case, I again invite you to leave.

SimplyTim
SimplyTim
reply to  MaryAnn Johanson
Sat, Mar 07, 2015 11:50pm

Your site, yes…which is on the internet. I didn’t think that would need to be explained to you, too much credit given there.

Good luck with your crusade. Hold your spatula high!

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  SimplyTim
Sun, Mar 08, 2015 12:29am

Pal, the commons of the internet refers to the infrastructure, not the individual sites.

MaryAnn Johanson
reply to  SimplyTim
Sun, Mar 08, 2015 2:11pm

You’re gone.

LaSargenta
LaSargenta
reply to  SimplyTim
Sat, Mar 07, 2015 11:09pm

Your original point was ad hominem. That’s not a ‘review of a review’. Disagreement with argument and point-making is fine.

Otoh, you come in belligerent, then no one’s surprised when some others respond in kind.

mar_wil
mar_wil
Sun, Mar 08, 2015 11:16pm

The almost universal condemnation of your review tells you all you need to know Mary. I waited until id seen the movie before replying in case you had a point. The only possible way anyone can interpret that film in the way you have is by a deliberate exercise of preexisting bias and prejudice. Im sorry about whatever it was that happened to you to make you see the world in such a twisted way. It was probably grossly unfair and perpatrated by a man. Im sorry nature determined you werent born a man but there we go, it cant be helped. Either way my opinion is that your review is pathetic and a great example of why feminism is being laughed at by the majority of people who dont have to follow a politcally correct agenda.