The modern slasher film is one of the more rigid and popular genres in film, and it has spawned no end of parodies and self-aware revisions because of that rigidity and popularity. At its heart, the slasher film is about the dangers of underage and/or premarital sex, with a plot that breaks down simply as: young people have sex and then some monster seeks to kill them for it. There are countless variations on this simple formula that began with Halloween (John Carpenter, USA 1978) and its tale of babysitters hunted down by a supernatural evil in the shape of a man and has continued through the Scream series with its complex tale of movie-inspired revenge and mayhem, and it has gone every direction in between.
It Follows follows in that tradition, but this is no more complex new version of the slasher genre. It’s not a loving tribute to the simplicity of the form like the most recent Halloween entries. It’s not a self-aware tribute to the genre like Scream (Wes Craven, USA 1996). It’s not a parody like Scary Movie (Keenen Ivory Wayans, USA 2000). It’s not a message to the film industry about its solipsism and fear of new ideas like The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, USA 2012). Instead, this film comes across as an experiment: what if we boiled down the slasher genre to nothing more than: young people have sex and a monster goes after them. The only plot element that Mitchell adds to that simplified version of the slasher plot is that this monster actually only hunts one person at a time, and the way to pass it on is to have sex–an element that helps to simplify the plot to its boiled-down core. Continue reading