My sister often complains that, being the horror geek of the family, I've usually already seen most of the films we watch. So we decided to start out this past year's Shocktober festivities with a recent horror flick that's gotten plenty of good notices, but that I somehow hadn't managed to catch as of yet.
For the uninitiated: It Follows is the story of Jay (played by imperfect Brittany Murphy clone Maika Monroe), who finds herself being pursued by an implacable supernatural force after spending the night -- well, part of it, anyway -- with a guy she's been seeing. Said force can appear to Its target as any human being It wants, though It seems to lack the ability to verbally imitate people. It is seemingly indestructible. And It is only visible to those, like Jay, who at some point have had the "curse" passed on to them by someone who acquired it previously.
That's how the rules of this particular curse work, you see: if you have sex with someone afflicted, it gets passed on to you... but that doesn't mean the person who "infected" you is safe, however, because if It kills you, It will then promptly turn around and start following your predecessor again. (If anything about this set-up seems vaguely familiar, we'll get to some possible reasons why in a few minutes).
With the exception of Year 1's Lovely Molly (one of my personal favorite horror flicks of the last ten years or so -- perhaps ever), It is probably our strongest inaugural Shocktober effort so far. The score is spooky. The pace, setting, and cinematography reminded me constantly of Halloween and other classic late-70's shockers. In fact, I had a hard time deciding, while watching the film, whether it was supposed to be a period piece or not. The "rules" governing the film's titular supernatural threat were elaborated on just enough to be intriguing (and to raise a LOT of interesting logistical questions), while not being overexplained to the point that it became tiresome trying to keep track of it all.
All in all a great effort. I give it three-and-a-half out of four weird compact-shaped ereading devices.
Ah, The Ring. The film that launched Aussie import Naomi Watts' career, ushered in a spate of reheated Americanized J-horror offerings, made creepy little ghost girls scary again, and most importantly, introduced us all to The Face. (If you don't know what I'm talking about... consider yourself lucky).
Sexy female reporter Watts investigates the mysterious death of her teenage cousin. Discovers a creepy videotape filled with mind-bending imagery that apparently triggers a curse that kills you 7 days after you watch it. Gets her ex to watch it. Lets her creepily precocious little preteen son watch it. Eventually uncovers an elaborate backstory involving child abuse, weird psychological experiments, dead horses, and other developments I'd rather not spoil.
All in all, I'd say The Ring holds up well. The green-tinged (well, more like saturated) cinematography and perpetually rain-soaked portrayal of greater Seattle are a bit overdone, and as my sister pointed out, did they really need a magic videotape filled with psychedelic imagery, a creepy undead ghost girl, and a creepy little human kid with vaguely defined psychic powers? In the end, though, these are middling complaints. It's a neat little film. I give it three out of four of these:
And the writers of It Follows should give the film props as well, 'cause they kinda ripped off Ring's climactic twist for their central conceit.
You see [SPOILERS FOLLOW]:
Near the end of the film, our heroine discovers that, unlike everyone else she knows of who's watched the tape, she didn't die. She concludes it's because she made a copy of the tape and passed it on to her ex, thus paying the 7-day curse forward a degree and exempting herself from death. This, of course, bears more than a passing resemblance to the premise of It, wherein those afflicted with the film's paranormally-enhanced STD must keep passing it on in order to save themselves.
Shenanigans? You be the judge.