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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

It Follows movie review: sexually transmitted dread

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.

yellow light 2.5 stars

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It Follows (2015)
US/Can release: Mar 13 2015
UK/Ire release: Feb 27 2015

MPAA: rated R for disturbing violent and sexual content including graphic nudity, and language
BBFC: rated 15 (strong threat, sexualised nudity, violence, gory images, strong language)

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

more reviews: Movie Review Query Engine | Rotten Tomatoes

If you’re tempted to post a comment that resembles anything on the film review comment bingo card, please reconsider.

  • 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.

  • Matt

    Not a credible review and should be ignored.

  • RogerBW

    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.

  • Danielm80

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

  • Bluejay

    Not a credible comment and should be ignored.

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

  • CB

    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?

  • a

    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.

  • RogerBW

    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.

  • a

    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.

  • CB

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

  • It’s not acclaimed by me.

    I’ll review it soon.

  • 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

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

  • CB

    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.

  • Jenny

    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,

  • Mark Z

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

  • RogerBW

    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

    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

  • Victoria Plum

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

  • That has comedy potential.

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

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

  • RogerBW

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

  • Beowulf

    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.

  • WhyOWhy?

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

  • Rod Ribeiro

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

    Isn’t that more like the 60s?

  • Max

    ooof course it isn’t.

  • OCD Geek

    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.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I can’t even read this.

    Punctuation: It’s a Thing!

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

  • It’s pretty much all the decades.

  • 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.

  • disqus_tQOb4DqB8B

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

  • LaSargenta

    May it, uh, come soon.

  • GenevaX

    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.

  • Sam

    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?

  • Kaitlyn Kline

    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?

  • Constable

    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.

  • Constable

    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.

  • Eric Hoheisel

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

  • 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.

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

  • What are film critics “supposed” to say?

  • Tedley

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

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

  • 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.

  • GenevaX

    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?

  • a

    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.

  • JC

    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

    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.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    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.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    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.

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

  • 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.

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

  • a

    “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,

  • a

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

  • JC

    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.

  • Jack

    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

  • Jack

    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…

  • JC

    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.

  • Kaitlyn Kline

    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.

  • Bluejay

    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.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    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”.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    “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.

  • Tedley

    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. :-)

  • wanted their freshness to be maintained

    In what universe is that a reasonable thing to want?

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

    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.

  • JC

    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

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

    I can only work with what I got, pal.

  • CJ

    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.

  • Bluejay

    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.

  • JC

    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

    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.

  • Edp

    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’!

  • Edp

    You are a troll on your own website!

  • jIM

    It Swallows

  • Not Jim

    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

  • JC

    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.

  • JC

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

  • 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.

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

  • jc

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

  • Bluejay

    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.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    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.

  • a

    In their universe.

  • Constable

    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.

  • Tedley

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

  • 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?

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

  • JC

    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.

  • jc

    “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.

  • JC

    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

    *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.

  • Bluejay

    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.

  • Jack

    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).

  • Jack

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

  • a

    What he said.

  • Danielm80

    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!”

  • JC

    “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.

  • Beowulf

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

  • JC

    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.

  • 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!

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

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

  • JC

    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.

  • kyle

    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.

  • Bluejay

    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

    Italics fail. My bad.

  • Bluejay

    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

    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.

  • SaltHarvest

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

  • SaltHarvest

    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).

  • SaltHarvest

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

  • Bluejay

    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.

  • SaltHarvest

    Seems unlikely.

  • Max

    why wouldn’t it be scary?

  • Jack

    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.

  • Dr. Rocketscience


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

  • 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.

  • Rod Ribeiro

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

  • Jack

    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.

  • mortadella

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

  • kyle

    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

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

  • Simon Glass

    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?

  • Simon Glass

    Extreme feminist? What a novel euphemism for virgin.

  • Danielm80

    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.

  • Jack

    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.

  • 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.

  • women like Anita sarkeesian and Johanson

    Such illustrious company you place me in!

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    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

    Only the best for you, MaryAnn.

  • Jack

    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?

  • Danielm80
  • Danielm80

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

  • LaSargenta

    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?

  • dobro

    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.

  • Danielm80

    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.

  • dobro

    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.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

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

  • LaSargenta

    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

    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

    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

  • Danielm80

    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.

  • David Wilkinson

    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

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

  • 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. I find your view at once reductive and contrived.

  • David Talisman

    You’re grasping here.

  • Jack

    Only losers use that excuse.

  • Danielm80

    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.

  • Danielm80

    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

  • Neal

    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.

  • LaSargenta

    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

    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.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Also, the Airbender thread is bog standard nerdrage.

  • SaltHarvest

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

  • LaSargenta


  • LaSargenta

    I think that would be a film by Ingmar Bergman.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Sometimes, I’m asleep.

  • Danielm80
  • Hey-o

    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

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

  • 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.

  • Kevin L

    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.

  • will_phill

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

  • dobro

    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.

  • Sam

    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.

  • LaSargenta

    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.

  • a shallow cheerleader who only cares about popularity

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

  • dobro

    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.

  • jensen

    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?

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

  • Graeme Smith

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

  • james

    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

    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

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

  • LaSargenta

    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

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

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

  • LaSargenta

    It is a rich and varied world…

  • Simon Glass

    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!

  • PMC

    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.

  • 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

    Nah. I’m off. Silly tart.

  • Danielm80

    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

    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.

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

  • SimplyTim

    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

    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

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

  • dobro

    Thank you.

  • bronxbee

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

  • SimplyTim

    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.

  • 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.

  • LaSargenta

    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.

  • SimplyTim

    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

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

  • You’re gone.

  • a

    Waiting. :-)

  • mar_wil

    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.

  • RogerBW

    Gandhicon 3, pretending it’s still in gandhicon 2. How cute.

  • The almost universal condemnation of your review tells you all you need to know Mary.

    I don’t know who Mary is, but I do know that I am astonished that anyone thinks universal critical groupthink is a good thing.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    I like this.

  • Melbury555

    Nice trite little reply. Sorry about misquoting your name. And sorry that its the only thing you really have to say

  • Melbury555

    l have no idea what you are talking about

  • Melbury555

    What do you like ?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Not you.

  • Danielm80
  • Conor Dalgarno

    Somewhat disappointed that this has been decided as a critically relevant review. You entirely missed the point of the film, and have instead decided to fall into the weird (and somewhat new) pitfall of labelling EVERYTHING as sexism even if it really doesn’t hold up under scrutiny – as has been seen multiple times in the other comments below.
    The fact that the distribution of this monster is even between two males and two females is irrelevant just because the main character is female? How does that even begin to make sense?
    You’re reading a lot into the film that simply isn’t there, and instead projecting your own views onto it and thereby providing a pretty awful review.

  • amanohyo

    The same work of art means different things to different people because of their perspective and experiences. If someone tells me, for example, that this film was meant to be a metaphor for the AIDs epidemic of the 80’s, I do not have to accept that interpretation of “the point.” I am free to challenge it and/or offer alternatives.

    You seem to be arguing that the gender of the main character is not that important. Try a thought experiment: make the main character male, but leave everything else exactly the same. Are there any lines/scenes that no longer work? Are there any that feel more interesting and fresh? If there is no significant change, then you may have a valid point.

    There is also a fundamental difference between your ideal experience of watching a movie and MaryAnn’s. For you, it seems that watching a movie is ideally passive — you cleanse your mind completely, then let the sensations wash over you like a pure, unobstructed wave gliding across a tabula rasa. This is illusion. Even when we meditate and observe without conscious judgement or desire, we are always thinking, always bringing something to the table.

    Watching movies is a collaboration between your mind and the minds of the filmmakers. You can acknowledge that collaborative process, or you can pretend that your brain doesn’t exist. Your brain does exist. Don’t be afraid if it wants to whisper ideas to you from time to time.

    For example, you believe this is a bad review because it misses the point. Perhaps you could follow that up by briefly explaining that point? MA claims that the movie lacks originality. You could challenge that by pointing out some surprising or novel aspects. The review states that the film’s attitudes towards sex are disappointingly retro. Do you think sex is presented in a positive or empowering light? Why?

    You did briefly make an attempt to address a point from the review, but you didn’t follow through. If you scroll up, dobro does a great job of disagreeing with MA in a respectful, well supported, rational manner. He or she first acknowledges the validity of MA’s perspective, then calmly presents a well-supported alternative interpretation. If your goal is to convince people to give the movie a chance, that kind of thoughtful approach (admittedly somewhat time consuming) is typically more successful and productive than angry hit and run commenting.

  • NCBrian

    well…even white supremacists hate OJ…

  • MTG

    I have to disagree with you here MaryAnn. This is one one of the most original horror movies to come along in a long time, and also one of the best. You seem more preoccupied with the fact that its a girl as the victim than the actual story, which is a shame.

  • Satan’s Taint

    Arrogant cunt.

  • Beal


  • Evilpenisbarer

    This review is the truth. Its totally not written by an extreme feminist at all. Even though two males get brutally murdered this whole plot is totally just another way that the inferior penis barer race is trying to oppress the all mighty vagina. The entity totally give males a get out of jail free card.
    If you male you have nothing to worry about or fear from this movie. As the entity clear only ̶s̶l̶a̶u̶g̶h̶t̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶r̶e̶g̶a̶r̶d̶l̶e̶s̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶s̶e̶x̶ ̶i̶f̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶s̶l̶e̶e̶p̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶u̶r̶s̶e̶ ̶b̶a̶r̶e̶r̶ wants to kill those whore females. If your a male and you have sex with curse spreading whore you will be totally r̶a̶p̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶d̶e̶a̶t̶h̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶i̶m̶a̶g̶e̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶o̶w̶n̶ ̶m̶o̶m̶ fine it won’t even bother with you inferior male genitals. If you disagree with this review you are clearly o̶p̶e̶n̶e̶d̶ ̶m̶i̶n̶d̶e̶d̶ a evil male troll and should get deleted. This is Mary’s webpage and if you disagree with her reviews you should just go spree your evil woman hating views some where else.

  • beal

    like this one?

  • Beal

    “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?”

    The point is it could happen to anyone, I suppose.

  • Jared Spears

    MaryAnn I’ve always enjoyed reading your reviews! You tend to give credit when credit is due when it comes to form, function, and intention while still criticizing the underlying subtext regarding the the role that women play.

    However, this doesn’t seem to be a review at all, but a critical analysis article that is solely dwelling on one aspect of the film as a whole. You gave your review of the film in one lazy sentence in the middle of a somewhat over-simplified and condescending critique of the film’s underlying values.

    Do you think it’s fair to begin your article without noting that you have a “biast” con of mostly just critiquing the film’s value in empowering women? I’ll continue to visit your site because I really enjoy your writing – but this article really came across and lazy and condescending.

  • Evilpenisbarer

    This review is the truth. Its totally not written by an extreme feminist at all. Even though two males get brutally murdered this whole plot is totally just another way that the inferior penis barer race is trying to oppress the all mighty vagina. The entity totally give males a get out of jail free card.
    If you male you have nothing to worry about or fear from this movie. As the entity clearly only ̶s̶l̶a̶u̶g̶h̶t̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶r̶e̶g̶a̶r̶d̶l̶e̶s̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶s̶e̶x̶ ̶i̶f̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶s̶l̶e̶e̶p̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶c̶u̶r̶s̶e̶ ̶b̶a̶r̶e̶r̶ wants to kill those whore females. If your a male and you have sex with curse spreading whore you will be totally r̶a̶p̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶d̶e̶a̶t̶h̶ ̶b̶y̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶i̶m̶a̶g̶e̶ ̶o̶r̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶ ̶o̶w̶n̶ ̶m̶o̶m̶ fine it won’t even bother with you inferior male genitals. If you disagree with this review you are clearly o̶p̶e̶n̶e̶d̶ ̶m̶i̶n̶d̶e̶d̶ a evil male troll and should get deleted. This is Mary’s webpage and if you disagree with her reviews you should just go spree your evil woman hating views some where else.

  • James Whelan

    After reading most of the comments I can only hope you know you’re wrong.

  • Yes! It’s true: Opinion on art is formed by general consensus. This has always been the case.

  • Danielm80

    MaryAnn will be changing the name of the site to Democracy in Action. Readers will vote each movie up or down, and she’ll use the poll results to determine the rating. Then she’ll write a purely objective review that quotes our comments, Zagat-style. It will be the most fair and balanced review site on the Internet.

  • James Whelan

    Cool story bro. Cheers for climbing out of her arse long enough to tell it.

  • James Whelan


  • And you are gone.

  • Danielm80

    I’m going to ignore your comment—which is a great defense for the delete button—and say this:

    Critics have been praising this movie because it breaks from the traditions of horror films. Its pacing is reportedly a little slower, and it alters some of the usual tropes. But when MaryAnn breaks from the conventions of film reviews by including social commentary and talking about her personal beliefs, people are appalled—even though it’s not at all radical anymore. Or maybe people are just upset that she doesn’t agree with them. But one of the reasons I keep reading the site is that she’s willing to go against social convention, and that she’s perfectly happy to be in the minority.

  • bronxbee

    so what is it to be: film criticism by mob rule?

  • Martin Wagner

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

  • 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.

  • J Craig Anderson

    MaryAnn, you have long-since emerged as one of the best reviewers out there. As celebrated and talented a reviewer as Pauline Kael was, she did not really approach her reviews from a distinct female perspective as you rightfully do. Maybe such a thing would have been impossible in her time while working for a mainstream publication. I do find it troubling that you have become a bit of a magnet for the ire of (probably self-unaware) sexists on the Web. Clearly we still have a long way to go as a society. And yet you accommodate them so gracefully. I have to say it makes your comment sections lively. Perhaps sociologists will study these forums someday in the post-sexism era to glean some knowledge about cultural attitudes in our day.

  • Colin Arthur Cundy

    Now I’m just going to throw out there that I am coming from Rotten Tomatoes and also that I haven’t seen the movie yet. Now that that’s out of the way here are my two cents. Isn’t the only way to get rid of the curse TO have sex? Genre conventions say that for a girl to have sex is a death sentence, they’re going to die. This has been originates from late 70s through the 80s horror films. Here that isn’t the case, the characters must instead have sex with someone for there to be any hope of survival. Now what is your opinion as a critic who has see. Because I think your assessment might have been a bit superficial. Am I wrong? If so how? If my comment is simply been deleted I’ll be disappointed because I’m just trying to understand why you think what you do.

  • But if she’d never had sex at all — or had sex with the “Nice Guy” friend who has been pining for her all along — she wouldn’t be cursed.

    And what happens here *is* basically a death sentence.

    I don’t see how you can determine whether my review is “superficial” if you haven’t even seen the film.

    You have absolutely no cause to believe your comment would be deleted.

  • Colin Arthur Cundy

    Well there is that 20 day old warning stating just that. I’ll comment again once I’ve seen it.

  • Colin Arthur Cundy

    Also that plot element, evident from the trailer, seems to subvert the sex=slut=death trope of horror films. Sex got her into this and only sex can get her out.

  • Danielm80

    That comment was a response to people who said, “But 95% of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes loved it, so your review is WRONG!” or, even worse, “You’ve ruined the film’s perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes!”

  • You cannot have an idea what a film is truly saying just by watching the trailer.

  • RogerBW

    No, sex can keep her alive a bit longer, at the cost of adding more people to the inevitable death chain. Which seems like a pretty easy moral choice, frankly.

  • Bfitz

    I enjoyed this movie. It wasn’t as good as people are making it out to be, but it was still enjoyable in my opinion.

    However, your review reads like you have point blank refused to enjoy the movie based on a strong “femenist” stance that doesn’t hold up when there’s no real point to be made; it’s as if you’ve taken offence from the story just because a girl had sex and is going to die… If it was a male lead, should I take offence? No. You’d say that was stupid.

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

    If you are in the business of publicly critiquing something, expect to have your review critiqued. Most would be happy that others have even read their work but you seem to be on a mission to alienate your readers. Well consider me alienated.

    A review consisting of nonsense and a somewhat ridiculously offended tone.

  • Bluejay

    If you are in the business of publicly critiquing something, expect to have your review critiqued.

    There’s a difference between “critique” and “abuse.” If you don’t know what that difference is, you’re probably doing the latter.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Boink anything that moves?

  • Oh, and *another* thing that’s problematic about this movie: Now that she has had sex, she *must* keep having sex. She was not a virgin before she sleeps with the guy who passes on the It that Follows to her, but because she slept with him, she now has no choice but to have sex again. This mirrors an unfortunate belief that lingers in our culture, that once a woman loses her virginity she cannot ever say no to another man again, or that once she has sex with a particular man once she cannot turn *him* down again. We see this in the virgin/whore dichotomy, in the notion (which plenty people still hold) that a prostitute cannot be raped, in the notion only recently made generally illegal (but still held by plenty people) that a woman cannot sexually refuse her husband and that a husband forcing his wife to have sex should not be considered rape, and in lots of other aspects of rape culture.

    Is this movie advocating rape? Of course not. But it is not a pleasant depiction of female sexuality, and the ways in which the movie is intentionally unpleasant (ie, the traditional horror aspects) have nothing to do with this.

  • Critique away!

    Here’s a hint, though: “You were just looking for something to be offended by” is not a legitimate critique.

  • Matt

    This is a bad review, and you should feel bad for writing it. It’s cynical and smug and intellectually lazy.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    [narrow eyes Fry] Not sure if trying to be ironic…


  • John Bell

    This site seems to be largely dedicated to looking at film through a feminist lens. It examines how women are treated in each film that comes out and how women are treated by popular culture at large. I think that’s great. That’s a very valuable perspective to me.

    That being said the site is very frustrating. I am a film fan and loved It Follows very much. I haven’t been this excited about a horror movie since Let the Right One In. As a film fan I have the urge to be protective of films that I loved as much as this one. A lot of people have this. It’s usually labeled “fanboy rage” or something like that. I would have no problem with an article examining the specific way in which the film treats women (the bechdel test does this and makes no claim that it correlates to the quality of the movie). This article uses these things to dismiss the movie entirely. I am a man. I don’t know the struggles of women first hand. I try to recognize that every day. I know Internet comment boards are littered with terrible misogyny. I also really liked this movie. I was taken with the retro vibe and the wide screen visual. I felt nostalgic about the john carpenter like score. I liked the way it used the punishing “sin” trope from horror movies of the 80’s. It sucks to feel like I just don’t understand the trials of a group of marginalized people because I liked It Follows.

  • Danielm80

    As a film fan I have the urge to be protective of films that I loved as much as this one.

    But what are you protecting, exactly? Does the review prevent you from enjoying the the movie? If you think MaryAnn’s interpretation of the film is wrong, then you can dismiss it and watch the movie the same way you did before. The review is only threatening if it changes your perspective on the film. If you decide you agree with it, then you may have a little less fun sitting in the movie theatre, but you might also think about movies, and women, in a more complex way. Or you may decide that you agree with some of her criticisms and not others, in which case watching the film could be a much more interesting experience. You might even find that the film plays with stereotypes and clichés in a way that makes it seem richer and deeper, in which case you’ll love it even more. But if that happens, it won’t be because the movie changed after you read the review. The thing that changed was you.

  • bronxbee

    you must be fairly new to the site; the examination of the role of women in film, is separate from the actual reviews of the movies. there are many movies that maryann gave a green light to at the least, and yet are on the downside when it comes to representation of women in film. look at her movie ratings, then look at the WATW ratings. they do not correlate across the line.

  • Well, you sure told me! The rigor of your argument humbles me.

  • This site seems to be largely dedicated to looking at film through a feminist lens.

    You mustn’t have looked very hard, then.

    I am a film fan and loved It Follows very much.

    I am a film fan, and I didn’t love it. Does that make us even now? Is it a contest? (Hint: It isn’t a contest.)

    It sucks to feel like I just don’t understand the trials of a group of marginalized people because I liked It Follows.

    It’s okay to be a fan of something while also recognizing its problems. If that were not possible, that very few women or nonwhite people (for example) could enjoy most geeky things, which exclude them to large degree when they’re not actively denigrating them.

    But one way to start understanding the trials of people who aren’t like you is to *listen when they complain about something.* And take them seriously. And don’t presume that they’re only trying to ruin your fun.

  • Matt

    It wasn’t an argument; just a simple observation that you didn’t put much effort into this review. It’s not my job to present a compelling argument–that’s your job, and you failed spectacularly. Try harder, next time.

  • amanohyo

    The review is certainly cursory (although I’d call it jaded and exasperated rather than cynical and smug); however, if you apply some empathy, the brevity is logical. MA is arguing that the film is built around tropes that made it impossible for her to appreciate the story and main character, essentially ruining the entire movie.

    For her, this is a glaring problem — a dead mouse in the soup, a murdered president at the play, a collapsed stage at the concert — you may not agree, but surely you understand that a lengthy, delicate critique would be a bizarre act of masochism on her part.

    As you left your comment, you may have been thinking, “I could offer constructive criticism and mention scenes I enjoyed, but why would I? This critic didn’t take time to think and write about the movie. It would be a waste of time to respond in depth to such a poor review. Anyway, that isn’t my job. My job is to like or dislike things briefly and cleverly.”

    Well, the feeling that stopped you from engaging with this review in a deep, meaningful way is somewhat analogous to the feeling that stopped MA from writing a lengthy, intellectually subtle review. Additionally there is a disconnect between your idea of what MA’s job is and her idea of what her job is (which you gotta admit is probably more accurate than yours). Until you nail that down, you’ll mostly be talking past each other.

    Oops, I’m rambling again. Sorry for getting so Dr. Phil-ish. If you have an interesting analysis/defense/interpretation of the movie, I honestly would like to read it sometime.

  • Bfitz

    Thanks for the hint.

    Oh, and here’s one for you: The ‘critique’ comment was in relation to the fact you are taking offence to each criticism of your review. Not my person comment.

    The more you say, the less credibility you retain.

    And to Bluejay, this is in no way abuse. I’m not sure what you count as abuse, but you must be one sensitive soul to think of my comment as that. If this is me abusing her by commenting on her review, does that mean she is abusing the writer of this movie with her comments on his work?

  • Bluejay

    I didn’t say your comment was abuse. But your comment, “expect to have your review critiqued,” is in direct response to her comment (which you quote) about “those who would abuse me based on what I say about a movie.” I don’t know how many comments you’ve read in this thread and other threads, but MaryAnn does get a lot of comments that clearly cross the line from civil disagreement to personal, hostile attacks. When she says “abuse,” she MEANS it.

    So, just a friendly reminder: There’s a difference between critique and abuse. If you consider the two the same (as you seemed to in your earlier comment), then it’s likelier that you’ll engage in abuse yourself at some point. Don’t be that kind of person.

  • Last warning for you: Discuss the film or my review *in detail,* or stop commenting.

  • Bfitz

    Oh, it’s warnings now is it?

    My first comment was, in my opinion, sufficient. Then the cheeky response from you piqued my attention. Now I’m bored. Should you continue to refuse to engage in conversation with someone who has opposing views and doesn’t understand where your ideas are coming from, your readers will lose interest.

    I imagine you or your friend will either come up with some more cheeky, ignorant responses or this will be deleted. Regardless of which it is, this encounter has been eye-opening.

  • Bluejay

    You’re still not discussing the movie, or your thoughts on it, or specific reasons why MaryAnn’s analysis of it is wrong. You’re just slinging words like “cheeky” and “ignorant” around. Do you really not see the difference?

  • Mike Hawk

    Pretty sure Martin meant the point and laugh superiority complex.

  • What Happened To Josie?

    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.

  • What Happened To Josie?

    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.

  • What Happened To Josie?

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

  • What Happened To Josie?

    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!

  • What Happened To Josie?

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

  • radiowarsx

    Your profession hinges on two things: writing ability and…thoughts. Too bad you have neither.

  • 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.

  • Putin on the Ritz

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

  • So you want kids to be afraid of sex?

  • Sergeant343

    Didn’t the movie punish both men and women for having sex? I mean wasn’t the curse spread via unprotected sex in which they (for the lack of a better term) make a creampie? Shouldn’t unprotected sex be discouraged among non-married/nonlong-term couples due to the risk of stis that could kill you? Maybe “It” is supposed to be representative of an sti of some sort and as such people (particularly younger ones) should practice safe sex (ie condoms). I saw Hugh as that one guy that seems so nice and all you want to have is a natural and healthy relationship, but when you later have sex with him he says, oh I have *insert sti of choice.

  • Putin on the Ritz

    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.

  • What Happened To Josie?

    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).

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

  • What Happened To Josie?

    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.

  • Danielm80

    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:


    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.

  • Bluejay

    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.

  • Shouldn’t unprotected sex be discouraged among non-married/nonlong-term couples due to the risk of stis that could kill you?

    It’s true! As soon as you get married, you are completely immune to STIs!

  • 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.


  • 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.

  • Sergeant343

    I am not saying you are not, but the odds significantly go down (so long as the persons involved do not cheat and were clean from the start).

  • What Happened To Josie?

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

  • What Happened To Josie?


  • What Happened To Josie?

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

  • CDC_

    I feel like you missed a lot of the points that I got from the movie, but to be fair, I don’t really think this movie is meant for everyone. In fact, I’m not sure how glad I am it got a wide release. It’s verging on being a straight up arthouse horror film, and I’m not really sure if the hype and promotion used is the correct representation for a film like this.

    Anyway, it’s clear you didn’t really get the subtext of the movie, but again, that’s ok, because I somehow doubt you’re the target audience.

  • Bluejay


  • What Happened To Josie?


  • What Happened To Josie?

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

  • What Happened To Josie?

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

  • Danielm80

    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.

  • Danielm80

    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.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    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.

  • Putin on the Ritz

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

  • RogerBW

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

  • What, pray tell, is the subtext of the movie that I missed?

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

  • CDC_

    Mrs./Ms. Johanson, I’m not going to talk you into liking a movie. For one, I have no desire to. I’m not going to go super fanboy on your and call you names for not digging what I dig, but I do feel like your review verges on obnoxious. For two, as I previously stated, not everyone is going to like this movie. I really don’t think mass consumption of this film was the way to go. It’s just, not a film for the general movie-going public. That’s more for films like Paranormal Activity or Insidious.

    That said, if you’re going to write a negative review for the film, I feel like you should at least pan it for the right reasons. Let’s just start off with the beginning of your article. You refer to the movie as ’80s.

    The thing is, movie doesn’t take place in the 80s. There are certain aspects of the film that certainly feel very 80s, sure, and that’s certainly not an accident. But there’s also certain aspects of it that feel like further back than that, like the present, and even at times almost like something of a recession bruised future.

    The film being set in Detroit I think works to its advantage of having a bit of a timeless feel. And that is what you, seemingly, have failed to notice in your comparing it to just being an 80s throwback.

    One of the biggest strengths this movie has is that it didn’t feel like it was paying homage to hundreds of horror films gone by. I yawn when I see that in horror films of today. It was truly its own movie, and the ambiguity of the time setting works well in establishing the dream-like quality so many other critics have regarded in It Follows. To just simply call it 80s retro is lazy and ignores one of the defining aspects of the movie. Admittedly, sure the score does invoke feelings of John Carpenter, but then again so did the score for You’re Next. I take this more as a sign of filmmakers being sick of the generic scores infesting the horror films of the present. Whatever happened to movies where the score was front and center? Quite frankly I think we need more of that. Forget John Carpenter for a moment and think of Jaws or Psycho. The score is what everyone remembers.

    But ambiguous time periods aside, the true subext you have evidently missed, as displayed in your rather glib analysis of the sex theme, is the sex theme itself.

    I (and I can’t believe I’m having to explain this to someone who clearly considers themselves an academic) don’t think that Mitchell was trying to say girls rubbing their “naughty bits” against other guys’ “naughty bits” is something that one should be punished for. Maybe you don’t really think that, in fact it would be hard for me to believe that you did, but I’m just going on what your article says, I’m not sifting through all these bile filled comments.

    I believe the presence of The It makes a statement about the shame that follows girls (and women) around when they are used for sex. She thought Hugh (Jeff) was seriously interested in her. Clearly she came from a broken and/or damaged home and was reveling in the idea that she had found someone to spend her time with. I think the premise of the movie spoke more on the idea of people using one another for sex, through emotional manipulation and the shame that “follows.” I don’t feel like anyone was being punished per se, I think there is a kind of universal feeling of shame that we (most of us anyway) feel when we find out someone has ulterior motives in getting to know us on an intimate level.

    I actually found myself seeing the guys as the dopes in the movie, and if the movie had anything to say in regards to gender, it’s how unbelievably shallow and predictable guys can be when it comes to wanting to have sex with a girl. Here we have the girl who is literally cursed to be followed around by some kind of demon monster, and if you have sex with her, you’re going to be followed around by the same demon monster… and the guys are literally lining up to fuck her. I honestly felt myself utter an audible chuckle when Paul said “I want to help.” It’s like, WOW, what an idiot. He doesn’t want to help, he just wants to bang his crush. Guys will do literally ANYTHING to get laid. I can attest to the accuracy of Mitchell’s depiction.

    Anyway, obviously, think what you like, and write what you like. You asked a legitimate question, and I feel I’ve provided a legitimate response. Thanks for taking the time to read, if you did in fact read all of this.

  • I believe the presence of The It makes a statement about the shame that follows girls (and women) around when they are used for sex.

    That might make sense… *if* she was “used for sex”! But whatever motives the boyfriend might have had in befriending her, she makes it clear (when speaking to someone else) that though it’s plain he wants it, he hasn’t pushed her, and *she* is the one who initiates their sex!

    If you want to say that this movie is about a young woman who is “used for sex,” then you’re also saying that the movie thinks that even a woman who want sex and pursues it is being “used.” If that’s the case, then I’m going to have to actively dislike this movie instead of being bored by it.

    I can’t believe I’m having to explain this to someone who clearly considers themselves an academic

    Ha. I don’t know where you could have gotten that idea. I am not an academic and have never made any pretenses toward that.

  • CDC_

    But, see that’s the thing. Clearly she initiated the sex because she felt like she was with someone who cared for her,but he didn’t. He manipulated her into liking him, and he didn’t push the sex on her because he didn’t want to scare her away. But beyond the shadow of a doubt, his only angle was to have sex with Jay so that he could pass this curse onto her.

    She wanted to have sex with someone she thought cared about her, he wanted to have simply for personal gain, even if that gain was just a little more time. He had NO intention of EVER going any further with her than penetrative sex.

    And I don’t know about you, but if I found out that someone I thought cared about me was just trying to get sex out of me… I’d feel used. I might even feel some shame.

  • Cbe

    I could not agree with this review anymore. This movie is a byproduct of the Saw bubble bursting and nothing more. The Spring Breakers of “horror.”

  • Sure. But that’s a lot more oblique, and it’s a lot harder to say that she was “used.” I don’t recall any declarations of love on Jay’s part, either. Sometimes girls just want to get laid, too.

  • TheLateReviewer

    Honestly, I don’t think you’re giving the film the credit it deserves.
    There’s a difference between being an imitation and an homage. Most horror movies around today are formulaic gore-fests with little innovation and originality. It Follows is an homage to classic horror films like The Thing and Halloween. Sure, the soundtrack is definitely inspired by Carpenter, but it also hearkens back to the synth-heavy music of the 80’s. The movie is 80’s, but in a very retro way, really grounding it with the modern world it’s set in.
    Elements like the fact that the only things ever shown on the TV at any given time during the movie are old 50’s adventure serials and the tension we feel when we, the audience, see the killer/unknown paranormal force, and our protagonists are completely unaware really connect the film with classic movies we know and love. And with that familiarity, the film can do some amazing things like the pool scene and the fight on the beach. It’s scary, it’s tense, and it’s fun.
    And to address your point about “punishing-girls-for-having-sex thing”, I find that to be a little unfair. This movie uses the “sex = death” trope from movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th, and just runs with it. Really, the film punishes anybody for having sex. Yeah, I guess you can say Jay is punished for having sex with a guy she hardly knew, but you have to remember that so was Hugh. Hugh had sex and he was being followed because of it. Later in the film, we see Greg pay the ultimate price for having sex. To say that only girls are punished for having sex is basically missing the point of the movie.

  • TamLin

    Thank God. I thought I was the only one who even really saw this movie. I can’t tell if “It Follows” is a tone-deaf attempt at commenting on sexual politics from a director who seems to have no business doing so or just an absurd idea played at face value, but either way it’s just plain dumb.

  • Hugh Jas

    This is one of the worst reviews I’ve ever read. Except for the first sentence to your conclusion, literally every paragraph just incoherently rambles about the movie, instead of actually critiquing it. Additionally, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such bizarre and disoriented topic sentences in my entire life.

  • James

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

  • James

    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.

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

  • ami

    I was wondering if this movie is worth a try, but reading those comments
    of raging anti-feminists told me everything I need to know.

  • Thomas Watson

    I have been seeing the picture of this girl tied to a chair for what seems like a year now! Thank you for at least giving me an idea of what this movie is about. I look forward to seeing it.

  • Matthew Raymond

    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.

  • Matthew Raymond

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

  • Matthew Raymond

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

  • Matthew Raymond

    Oddly enough, the film takes on a far worse implications for women if you stereotype the men…

    A common sexual stereotype is that men always enjoy sex. When you consider the fact that It Follows goes out of its way to show that the protagonist does NOT always enjoy sex (via Jay’s pool), but never establishes the opposite, the premise of the movie takes on undertones that are inherently more sinister towards women. Setting aside the consequences for the person who the curse is being “passed on” to, this means that the affected men have to choose between death and pleasure, whereas the women must choose between death and tricking men into raping them.

    That said, I had almost no sympathy for Jay. Her character was rather bland. All of her actions were self-serving and put others in harm’s way. To me, a pull-string talking doll that says “Don’t let it get me!” would have been more interesting, and possibly more entertaining.

  • Jasmi
  • Dammit! I forgot to check in with the collective feminist hive mind before I wrote my review! Now I shall have to turn in my Angry Woman Power Beaver membership card.

  • Melanie Page

    I really, really did not enjoy this film. Not only was I not scared, but I, too, was pretty peeved that young women are being shamed for having sex. I was also put off by the idea that the character needs to have sex in order to make someone else responsible for the risk–and I had to wonder if the characters had to wear condoms in order to pass the sexually transmitted haunting on. The film felt like dangerous message after dangerous message for impressionable viewers. Also, did anyone else feel put off by the fact that Jay could hop on a bicycle and escape danger? Felt a little more E.T. than horror.

  • Jasmi

    I just believe that there is a lot more going on this film than you gave it credit for. I hear what you’re saying about It Follows about being simply a problematic cautionary tale about sex and being slut shaming and victim blaming in how it’s presented, but I really feel like it goes deeper than that. For one it seems like the film explores, pretty thoughtfully some really important issues. For example, what consent really means. So early in the film the protagonists enthusiastically consents to sex with her boyfriend, right, but of course she didn’t not consent to being haunted by this evil relentless presence. It brings in to question the idea of informed consent and what that really means. Which is of course is an extremely important discussion. Also, I feel like the movie kind of inverts the abstinence only scare tactics that many horror movies employ–that being if you have sex you die. But it’s turned in on itself here; I mean she can only save herself by avoiding abstinence. Of course, that brings all sorts of ethical questions to the surface regarding saving yourself by sacrificing another and also about being pressured into sexual activities by society or by various other pressures. In my opinion there’s quite a lot of allegories going on in this story and, to me, it’s refreshingly subtle- I mean you’re not being hit over the head with the meaning, it’s fairly open to interpretation. Also, it’s nice to see a female lead, especially in a horror movie, who is actually quite a fully realized, three dimensional character and has agency and power. I’d argue that pretty much all of the characters in the movie are fleshed out pretty convincingly, which is rare for a genre movie like this. Anyway, it’s subjective…it’s just my opinion and no more valid than yours.

  • It brings in to question the idea of informed consent and what that really means. Which is of course is an extremely important discussion.

    I agree that that is an important discussion. But I don’t think the film is much concerned with it.

    I just believe that there is a lot more going on this film than you gave it credit for.

    You could have simply said as much in your first comment, instead of implying that all feminists must think alike and agree on everything.

  • Jasmi

    I don’t believe that I ever explicitly or even implicitly said anything to the extent that all feminist must think alike and agree on everything. I never said that and I don’t believe that. I posted an article that to me explored some interesting themes in the movie, such as voyeurism, poverty and patriarchy.

  • Kaz

    I thought the film was well-made and genuinely scary. As a horror movie fan that is tired of false jump scares, I really appreciated the movie’s effective pacing and build up. However, I also feel that the last third of the film (starting roughly around Greg’s death) was disappointing. (I feel like the story just kind of fizzled after a while.) And like you, I was annoyed at the film’s misogyny.

    I’ve read interviews where the director states that his intention was not to vilify sex, but to reflect the idea (or fear) of death/mortality. If this is the case, then he made some poor storytelling choices.

    I’ve also seen a lot of people say that sex in the film had a dual function/meaning– that it didn’t only signal death, but life as well. I am not really convinced by this interpretation. I fail to see how being coerced into having sex (because otherwise you will die violently) is truly liberating.

    My sister (who watched the film with me) also made a very poignant observation. She noted that female desire was strangely absent from the movie. You get a lot of male-gaze in the scenes (e.g. the shot of Paul looking at women in pornographic magazines, the scene where the two neighborhood boys are spying on the protagonist, the scene where Greg is ogling Yara’s legs), but no female-gaze or any real indications of reciprocated sexual desire.

  • “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.

  • Boner Brigade

    The paradoxical rhetoric is exactly what I would expect from some pseudo-feminist critic. The fact of the matter is, four males died due to this unfortunate side effect of sexual intercourse. The only female case we see is that of the main character, Jay, who is still alive, though ostensibly emotionally scarred, at the end of the film. Taking into account evidence that is as close to quantifiable as possible given that this is a fictional film about fictional events, your logic doesn’t stand up to even the most casual of inspections, and saying that “horror movies are still doing the punishing-girls-for-having-sex thing” is, at best, a poor attempt at gender-baiting. Please cease all writings, since your interpretation of innocuous films is so skewed that nothing you say is reliable. How you arrive at the conclusion that this film is punishing girls for having sex when it’s guys getting killed the entire movie…unbelievable.

  • In the vast movie environment, men get to do and be and say everything a human being can. Women are not allowed that privilege, and mostly get slotted into roles defined by their sexuality. That’s why it’s a problem that yet again this happens to a female character.

    Please cease all writings

    I don’t think I will.

  • Danielm80

    The only female case we see is that of the main character, Jay, who is still alive, though ostensibly emotionally scarred, at the end of the film.

    You might try watching the first ten minutes of the film again. Your evidence doesn’t stand up to even the most casual of inspections.

  • That’s not Jay at the beginning of the film, but it doesn’t bode well for Jay.

  • Danielm80

    That was my point. Jay + 1 woman > 1.

  • K.

    I suspect that you have a very limited and simplistic view of what misogyny and sexism look like. You remind me of the people who think that if a movie follows a girl or woman character, it is automatically feminist or woman-friendly. It just doesn’t work that way.

  • Jeremy Douglass

    Good review and thoughtful for sure. However, I saw a long chain of people of both sexes killed in this movie. More men than women, actually. To single out just the women as being punished for having sex ignores the boy that had sex with Jay and then was later killed rather brutally in his bedroom. Not to mention the three men on the boat. It was pretty obvious she intended to swim out there and have sex with them. The monster showing up a short time later made it clear that those three men met an awful fate. If the monster only killed women, then I could side with your assessment. But the rules were pretty clear: have sex, get killed. No one is immune.

  • The protagonist is a woman. This story is *about* a woman, in a genre that has a long history of punishing women for sex.

    But nice “But what about the menz?!” And thank you for another vote for my proposed rant about how saying “But bad stuff happens to men too!” is not a justification for the way women are treated onscreen. I’ll have to get to that soon.

  • Jeremy Douglass

    I’m sure we saw the same movie. Yes it had a woman as the protagonist. But It was the men she had sex with that were killed. Three guys on the boat. Her friend. And in the end, her boyfriend, where it’s clear that they’re both being followed walking down the sidewalk holding hands. I’m not sure what you’re on about how this movie sends a clear message that women are to be punished for having sex. EVERYONE got punished for having sex in this movie. And, strangely, also rewarded with some temporary reprieve from the relentless terror by sending the monster on to a new target. Sex in this movie is both punishment and reward for both genders.

  • Jeremy Douglass

    Now that I think about it some more, death isn’t the punishment for sex in this movie. Death is the punishment for monogamy. Promiscuity is rewarded. And the more promiscuous one is, the further removed they’ll be from the monster.

  • I’m looking at a larger context than this movie.

    This has been discussed at length in this thread. Please read the other comments.

  • Jeremy Douglass

    You folded an issue you have with the treatment of women in 80s horror movies into your review of this particular movie. I get that you’re looking at a larger context, but this is a review of one very specific thing. I don’t think your points are wrong in the larger context. In fact, they’re spot on. I don’t care at all about a stupid RT score or that someone on the internet disagrees with me. I do think, however, that your points about this movie don’t really fit in the larger context that you take issue with. Very specifically, this movie doesn’t punish women for having sex. But yes, broadly, women have been treated horribly in movies and TV. For instance, Law and Order SVU and its endless parade of rape and violence. How is that shit entertaining? I don’t get it. But I think you’ve painted an unfair portrait of this movie by trying to make it fit in the larger context of movies and the treatment of women. If anything, this movie treats the genders as equal. Its monster doesn’t distinguish between the sexes when determining who gets punishment. Why are you doing that?

  • Movies do not exist in a vacuum.

  • Gerrtrude

    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!

  • Gerrtrude

    She fucking rated it lower than Insidious 3.

  • Dexter Barnes

    I understand your view on the film. I myself found it to create great tension and a feeling of anxiousness that other horror films fail to do, but it lost some of that near the ending. I do disagree though with your “Horror movies are still doing the punishing-girls-for-having-sex thing?”. Seeing as this “It” is getting passed on through sex, for each girl there is a boy in the chain, don’t pin this on being a female thing. I think this film is more trying latch onto something that every teenager is trying to achieve (boy or girl) and that aren’t always thinking about the consequences.

  • dyanna

    I liked your review. I think the comments section is ridiculous, but I don’t think you were being snarky or rude with your review. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.. my opinion is that ‘It Follows’ was too hype to begin with. I really looked forward to seeing it and was sorely disappointed. It’s throwback mentality was too much of a ‘music sampling’ for me. It was so retro that it seemed to b grasping at straws to be cool. John Carpenter-esque tunes, allusions of A Nightmare on Elm Street. I think the premise was much more intriguing than the flick.

  • Dale Cooper

    I’ll tell you a story.

    Having just come out of this movie with a sense of betray after the hype on the internet and the reviews aggregator, i went looking for dissident opinions in order to find some insight in the wrongdoings of this motion picture. And i stumbled across FlickPhilosopher which allegedly proposed a bit cooler opinion.

    What i found, after a quick tour of the “website”, was a shock with no surprese. A biased approach to film criticism, uniformed, shallow, trite and laughable at best. In reviewing It Follows, not a single word about dramatization, performances, aesthetics, subtext, construction and so on an so on. Just a premeditated assumption (horror movies = women victim) stressed out ad nauseam to camouflage the reviewer’s utter inadequacy.

    The commentators who accuse you of bias are RIGHT. You simply do not have the means for a critical analysis.

    Proof of that is the very simple fact that YOU ARE NOT A FILM CRITIC. Plain an simple. All you have is a website with intrusive request of donation to God knows what companyltd at your name, which luckily prevent the visitor of having immediate impact with the content of said website.
    So when you credit yourself as a critic you are committing a FRAUD. I do not make a business card saying ‘Designer’ because i fen chuied my room and fool people into thinking i am. Even if i’m doing it since the 1990s!
    Show us your contract with a REAL newspapermagazine, which states that you are HIRED BY SOMEBODY to be a film critic and you will be able to call yourself one.

    Up until that moment, you are a crook and a fraudster who should do a quick search on recent comments made by film directors on internet critics. I’ll give you a hint: Cronenberg and Loach. But i might suspect that they might be under your radar. Because they are men, perhaps?


  • BraveGamgee

    Ugh. Any number of people could probably word this better than I could, but I’m going to give it a go.

    Various reviews can focus on different things. The review is the personal experience of the reviewer. To say that it should be unbiased is such a strange request, just because… well… there’s no such thing. The things that we tend to see as “unbiased” are the things that agree with our views. Sure, MaryAnn doesn’t always focus on the technical aspects of the film. Those aren’t always the things that make a good film. It needs to be a story that grabs her. Her focus on female representation may seem silly to you, because it’s not something that you notice in movies (I know that I personally found it ridiculous when I read feminist articles in the past). But after watching for it, I’ve seen that it’s a real issue. It may not matter to you. But hey… you’ve got a variety of reviewers to choose from. Her focus on something that doesn’t matter to you does not detract from the validity of her review in the slightest.

    That insult at the end is rather unfortunate. As one of good number of male readers of this site, I can tell you that I’ve never felt hatred from MaryAnn based on my gender. Dealing with troubling treatment of women in movies does NOT equal blaming all men for it. Heck, even women enforce some damaging patriarchal ideas. Men aren’t the enemy. The patriarchal ideas are.

  • Dale Cooper

    In your last stand for Mrs. Johanson you are very careful in ignoring my previous observation. The fact that she is NOT a critic despite her hypocritical claiming so, that’s what i was aiming with my last statement. What you call a sexist joke was in fact a paradox to observe her incompetence.

    Your claim that every film critic is just a viewer expressing hisher personal opinion is a common mistake of beginners. Critics are a powerful lobby in the entertainment industry, for a number of reason mostly related to the same advertisers that buy space on the publications on which they write. My suggestion on bias in criticism: read Bazin.

    My issue is with everybody calling themselves “criticts” without the credentials for doing so. But i eagerly wait Mrs. Johanson’s credentials in PROFESSIONAL film criticism.

  • Bluejay

    i eagerly wait Mrs. Johanson’s credentials in PROFESSIONAL film criticism.

    Jesus Christ, you can’t even be bothered to read her bio page, can you? The fact that you’re unaware of information that’s so easily accessible on this very website doesn’t inspire anyone to take your comments seriously.

    a common mistake of beginners

    You know what else is a common mistake for beginners? Ad hominem arguments. You disagree with her on this film, fine. Debate the ideas. The fact that you’re turning this into a personal attack says more about you than about her.

  • bronxbee

    here’s a suggestion: go elsewhere… find a site that fits your narrow definition of criticism and be happy there. stop subjecting the rest of us to your didactic tirades.

  • I understand. It can be uncomfortable to encounter new ideas. It’s just your brain expanding. That’s a good thing! Embrace it.

  • Who is Mrs. Johanson?

  • Danielm80

    She’s a “critict” at the “FlickPhilosopher” site. She’s extremely “biast.”

  • BraveGamgee

    Haha, okay, I admit that I did avoid responding to that criticism, but only because the proof was (as others pointed out) in her bio page. I figured that any response to an accusation of fraud made with the proof being so readily accessible was unnecessary :)

  • Dale Cooper

    Perhaps if you had bothered to open a book on film reviewing you would have noticed that a journalist on a newspaper payroll and a contributor to the same newspaper are not quite the same thing. The only valid credential of employment of the owners

  • Dale Cooper

    New ideas? A bunch of chewed up slogans from the darkest part of the otherwise noble history of feminism? Which planet are you living in?

  • You’re gone.

  • Bluejay

    I know you can’t comment anymore, so you’ll just have to read my reply and bear it. Your argument about the employment status of film critics is laughable, and reveals nothing but your gatekeeping snobbery and your ignorance of the current economic environment for film criticism. Go read Roger Ebert for his broader view of the profession.


    Also, you devoted the last three paragraphs of your original comment to calling MaryAnn “a crook and a fraudster.” That’s a personal attack, no matter how much you deny it.

    There are many things I could call you based on your behavior, but I wouldn’t want to engage in ad hominem myself. I’ll just say goodbye and let you go to your room to think about what you’ve done.

  • Harld Castillo

    Really, this movie sucks big balls. Nothing original about it and the hype was flat out false advertising. The Exorcist is remebered more than 40 years after and will be remember for just as long. This movie is going to be forgotten in a few months, if not weeks.

  • thelonious

    I probably read more of the comments than MaryAnn’s review. Not a bash on you MaryAnn whatsoever.
    I may be getting to foggy to recognize all these nuances, what like this movie is all art house now, like it is Tartovsky or something. Give me a break, it lost it’s luster easily halfway though. It started out ok, but fell into typical horror clichés and the pool scene uggh, then it got funny.
    It could have been better but it wasn’t.
    Also a tip for everyday movie lovers: Nothing more annoying than hearing genius thrown out every other movie.

  • Anna

    I read an interview with the director and his reasons for a lot of the choices he made seemed pretty shallow. For instance, rather than there being an actual backstory to why the girl in the opening sequence is wearing high heels with her nightwear, he says something like “well in all of those ’80s horror movies the girls would be wearing high heels.” But in the movies he references, girls were wearing heels because they were out at night, and that’s what girls wore when they went out. Whereas in his scene, she’s wearing heels with a tank-top and shorts while coming from her house ostensibly after sleeping or relaxing. So rather than setting up a scene where the girl is coming home from a club, where it would make sense for her to wear heels, he just randomly puts the heels there because It’s so ’80s. And that’s what a lot of the movie felt like – a copy of random elements from retro movies without any thought of how it came together or what it meant. The effect for me was that I couldn’t get into it. I agree with Maryann here, because I think that a story and characters – ANY story and characters – is more interesting than a mishmash of tropes.

  • Brandon Lightcap

    The fact that the person who wrote this, in their respected opinion, is in the comment section terrorizing people for their different opinion, shows how immature some adults can be. Also the fact that I’m only 16, and telling you that you need to grow up, says something.

  • Terrorizing: I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  • Zenguy

    I didn’t like the movie either, not because the protagonist was for most of part of the movie a dumbass. But it took so long for something to be explained that I lost interest on the movie, like the soundtrack though, the only good part is the giant pool scene, which made me laugh when “it” hit her with a iron, may I say i enjoyed this scene a lot more than the whole movie combined. But it isn’t a great horror movie by far. It just medium, sometimes awkward and lame, sometimes cool. I would say that if you have time to kill, go ahead, otherwise watch “babadook” that is way scarier and you can cheer for the monster to kill the annoying kid. IMO the premisse is different, what it doesn’t mean is good, it follows its a supernatural DST. I would recommend watching it with a condom on.

  • you can cheer for the monster to kill the annoying kid

    That’s the most misanthropic interpretation of that film I’ve heard yet.

    I would recommend watching it with a condom on.

    Er, what?

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