'It Follows': Not Just a Cautionary Tale About Casual Sex

Arguably the Best Horror Film Ever Released about Teens and Growing Up

There honestly should be a manual for devising a true horror story. A horror story ripe with themes and messages that will make so much sense to a reader or viewer that it absolutely has to be revisited just for its pure genius:

The film 'It Follows,' released in 2014, is that horror movie with all the layers you could want in a story.

And in all its basic-ness, you'd be shocked to realize that it's not just a linear-type film with one main idea. There are actually a ton of deep meanings behind all of the frames, the shots, the sequences, the scenes. With obviously the underlying principle, the whole point of it: meaningless sex is bad!

So bear with me on this: IT FOLLOWS sets the stage of a story about a teen girl facing the same stuff most teens do... Peer pressure, self discovery, a sense of being and belonging. And, of course, sexual awakening. Obviously that latter is the initial point of the film as she meets some guy for a one-night stand only to find out that the excursion is utterly a deception to delay what many term as the "monster." The IT.

Things go massively sideways as she realizes something's not right...

Talk about illustrating how bad one-night stands really are... This takes the cake in a major way.

This film is so rich with dreamlike and nightmarish imagery without even using any kind of CGI. Just creative camera angles. It's as if a painter directed the film. But the fact that a one-night stand with a guy absolutely knowing about IT following every person who has had sex with him does give you that sense that this is about a disease. A sexual disease.

Scenes here have to be watched just to get the full meaning behind all of it. Chances are you've heard about how it all works — IT follows, slowly, obviously. IT can be shot, stunned, but ultimately not killed. IT has to be invited somehow. No one else can see IT unless you're a current or previous participant in some sexual carnage — a one-night stand, rape, what have you.

But it's so much more than just sheer randomness...

Watch the film and you notice one important aspect about IT — IT changes appearances every single time. And that's no accident. It's almost deliberate. So deliberate that some of the times, you recognize IT as one of the characters, previously killed by IT in a previous scene.

It would stand to reason that every instance you're seeing of IT following our hopeless teen characters is an image of a previous person who had suffered from IT in some way. Could be a rape. Could be an unwanted sexual advance. Could be a prostitute. Could even be consensual sex ending in a breakdown of a relationship.

The ultimate premise is that IT is following because of some breakdown. So, you get the impression that IT is only following not because of the act of sex, but why sex is happening between those two participants (or three, or four, or whatnot — can't discount threesomes or orgies, right?).

And here is the most important point to make... that there really is no escape at all.

And that commitment is the most important part of supposedly escaping... IT.

The idea of love and commitment does make its stamp in the film as a relevant theme. But as you see, it ends very open... With one key symbol that you might see.

The teen girl and guy walk hand-in-hand for a reason — they're in a "relationship." It's an attempt to somehow end the "curse" as it seems it only spreads as more and more people end up in that cycle of meaningless sex, further displaying the theme that casual intercourse kills.

But you can tell... It's not an actual 'relationship'! And if you look closely behind the couple in a quick follow-up scene of this clip, you see IT following closely behind — except that IT looks eerily like the kid holding her hand.

Clever Symbolism: IT is the unrequited love, the bitterness, the suffering of loss.

The teen girl really doesn't love the guy; but sticks with him in an effort to end the curse. Thankfully, the guy does love her. But that doesn't stop the curse at all. Instead, his own appearance is the curse forever following the two of them, possibly for the rest of their lives, until they pass the curse on to others.

In true fashion: this is a horror film with no silver lining, no bright light. But... this couple's obviously not too worried about IT following them at the moment!

It's not just about sexual encounter. It's about change. Love. And commitment.

Pierre Roustan
Pierre Roustan

I am an author, adventurer, and father, living with my wife, four daughters and one son in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I've trekked through tundras, waded through swamps, wandered through deserts, and swam in the Great Barrier Reef.

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