This is What Supernatural Horror Film 'It Follows' is Really About (Besides Scary Sex)

On the surface, horror films shock and terrify audiences with their depictions of gruesome violence and gore. However, under the surface, the shock and terror stems more from subtle criticism about the world we live in.

You might be thinking that horror films aren't sophisticated enough to offer any modicum of social commentary — and you'd be mostly right. There are plenty of films that exploit humanity's (especially America's) obsession with blood, sex, and violence, but there are some out there that use the horror platform to draw attention to current societal fears and anxieties. David Robert Mitchell's It Follows is one of these films.

The team over at Digging Deeper offers an interesting reading of the film in their video essay entitled It Follows: The American Nightmare

And here's the film's trailer in case you haven't seen it:

The great thing about It Follows, other than its superb cinematography (which received a Spirit Award nomination), is that it exists in what seems like familiar packaging: a scary movie about the dangers of casual sex — like the "It" in "It Follows" actually represents an STI. You could even go a little "deeper" and say the film is a rebuke to this generation, with their stupid vapes and rock-n-roll and fake ass implants, warning them to repent for their horrible transgressions.

But, It Follows isn't about that — at least not according to the video. 

It's about today's disillusioned millennials as they struggle to live in a reality they inherited from the Baby Boomers and Generation X: rising student debt, a shrinking middle class, a declining economy, and a housing bubble that has completely burst. So really, the "It" in "It Follows" can be viewed as "an amorphous embodiment of issues and anxieties being passed from the older generation to the new, as problems unsolved by parents become the burden of their ill-prepared children."

The absence of adults in the film, the invisible threat, the selfish desire to just pass "It" on to someone else (essentially the mechanism of the entire film) — all of these things send a clear message to the audience that, yes, these kids are all on their own to fight the evil that lurks among them. An evil that they inherited. An evil that they cannot escape — no matter how hard they try.     

Your Comment

8 Comments

Quick, everybody run to your safe places!

February 27, 2016 at 4:05PM

0
Reply
Zan Shin
496

Half-baked analysis, reads like an undergrad paper. By no means does the "it" in the movie clearly represent anything "passed on" by the parents' generation. Without being overly literal, the "curse" is passed around from kids to other kids, and while sometimes parents or adults are represented in the form of the invisible monsters, they are just as often other kids, known or unknown to the pursued. There is a long history of movies about youth, kids, teenagers isolated from their parents and adult society in general. This film is working from that material, not trying to make any particular point about youth inheriting a disaster-ridden world.

February 27, 2016 at 4:57PM

5
Reply
avatar
Vernon Florida
Editor/Camera
105

"You might be thinking that horror films aren't sophisticated enough to offer any modicum of social commentary"

What?

I think the horror genre is pretty solidly built upon a bedrock of social commentary. Horror films are always about subconscious fears within a society. From all those radiated-monster films in the 1950s... to the fear of the unseen communist horde of The Body Snatchers. And Night of the Living Dead (particularly all the stills at the end) is very much a response to the tensions and ugly hate-fueled reactions to the Civil Rights movement.

And on a fundamental level horror movies are usually about the societal etiquette of keeping our gross liquids on the inside. It isn't polite to bleed or leak fluids in public. Or to grow a mangina in your chest that you then insert a VHS tape into, thus transforming your hand into a penis-gun (like in Videodrome).

February 27, 2016 at 10:49PM, Edited February 27, 10:53PM

0
Reply
avatar
Sean Bokenkamp
Animator
369

The most inspiring and helpful video essay I have watched to date!

February 27, 2016 at 11:42PM

0
Reply

This film is about the anxiety of growing up - and especially growing up sexually - regardless of the time period. They especially achieved this by making the film timeless by having the technology be a mix of all different eras - old CRT televisions mixed with people reading e-books. Just like millennials to think everything is about them! Might as well be the 70s "Me" generation.

February 28, 2016 at 9:45AM, Edited February 28, 9:45AM

0
Reply
David HC
152

'It' could be a metaphor for a lot of things. I have a friend who thinks it's about climate change and social responsibility being passed off as "not my problem."

February 28, 2016 at 10:45AM

0
Reply

If the filmmakers behind It Follows listened to this analysis, would they laugh? Cry? Go for a drink? Sue? Amazing how much 'analysis' of art is far removed from the creation of said art, no matter the medium.

February 28, 2016 at 3:37PM

0
Reply
avatar
Robert Bryant
Writer, Editor, Sound Designer
188

Half baked analysis or not, this beautiful film deserves to be discussed and I am happy it is.

March 3, 2016 at 3:37PM, Edited March 3, 3:37PM

7
Reply
James Manson
Photographer
384