Out now on VOD, DVD & Blu-ray is It Follows, David Robert Mitchell’s tremendous horror film. I’m fortunate to be featured on the disc as part of the Critics’ Commentary, and I’ve seen kind words in relation to the track, as well as my chunk and observations on It Follows‘ double feature potential with The Ring. Here, I expand on what makes these films lovely companions…
In its year of anticipatory buzz and in its weeks of expansion, youve likely heard something like this: It Follows is A Nightmare on Elm Street meets The Ring. Fuck, thats good. Thats canny as hell. In no short order have I, or many whove seen the film, expressed real enthusiasm for David Robert Mitchells terrific, dread-filled work. It was upon revisiting Gore Verbinskis own terrific, dread-filled work however, I realized just how apt that little line is.
These two films which stare down death, the certainty of our fate and the uncertainty of when it arrives are beautiful companions. Stuck adulthood is the horror show: It Follows anticipates it, while The Ring regrets it.
It Follows is stunningly visual and cinematically told, both sound and image convey encroaching mortality and the in-betweenness of a mundane suburban existence. Still, its language is just as beautiful from Jays (Maika Monroe) musing on how childhood optimism clashes with the realities of adulthood, to a particularly telling line from Kelly (Lilli Sepe). Prior to It Follows much-discussed, futile swimming pool plan, Kelly asks Paul (Kier Gilchrist)in the drivers seatKnow where to go? Her reading is deadpan though. It sounds like a statement. It sounds like, Nowhere to go.
The Ring is also stunningly visual; the saturated, grim atmosphere was singular upon its 2002 release. Its images are striking, from the David Lynch death bell of the tape, to rain-drenched Seattle, to the portrait-like countryside. Funny enough, its something said that haunts, however. Before the punishing epilogue in which Samaras embodiment of ever-approaching death is confirmed, Aidan Keller (David Dorfman) asks his mother what time it is. Following her ordeal excavating Samaras remains, Rachel says, Its either really early or really late. Wed like to believe the former, a new lease on life being the parents she and ex-flame Noah shouldve been. A few minutes later, as Noahs TV switches on, we realize its the latter.
In reality, its both. We always have the rest of our lives ahead of us. And yet, from the moment were born, we approach death. It Follows kids look forward and see nothing, The Rings adults look back and see the same.
Rachels half-hearted offering to her sons teacher at the start of the filmHe knows Im thereis a lie. He knows Im there isnt the same as being there. Rachels descent into the well then forces her to confront her own continued neglect of a needful child and a fulfilling life, even as their time is running out.
It Follows creeping death is perhaps more prevalent, always a physical presence from which the kids run. Often, they run to places of childhood solacethe playground, the family lake house, the pool. The act through which this haunting is transferred however sex is too much a channel to adulthood. Its also a reprieve, a momentary relief that helps It Follows ensemble understand running isnt the answer. Giving up is what brings death ever closer, resigning yourself to an existence.
However many feet It is from you, however many days it takes Samara to arrive, theyll be here eventually. In It, Jay sees variations on who she could become. In The Rings best scene, an existential nightmare on an urban terrace, Rachel observes building units of families who smoke outside while the TV babysits their offspring. In Samara, Rachel sees a child unloved, misunderstood, neglected and evil. As they and we see it, death is certain, these nightmare visions of ourselves and our children dont have to be.