David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows introduced a new sort of horror movie villain; “it” is an amorphous, inhuman figure that has been interpreted in lots of different ways.
It Follows made its debut at the Cannes Film Festival in 2014, but released in the US in 2015. Its unique take on a more intangible creature was a refreshing take that made audiences afraid of something much more cerebral: inevitable doom. Starring Maika Monroe as Jay Height, the film’s lead protagonist, It Follows has been interpreted as everything from a commentary on sexuality and the anxiety surrounding intimacy and guilt following casual encounters to “it” being a physical representation of HIV/AIDS and other STDs. Director David Robert Mitchell has said he got the original concept for his film from anxiety dreams he used to have about being followed and has explained that the film is meant to express “dream logic” where, once someone is inside a nightmare, they cannot always get out of the nightmare through traditional means or logical thought.
Despite being asked many questions about his slow-walking creature, Mitchell has shown little interest in explaining “it”. Even so, he has said, conceptually, that it represents something along the lines of human mortality and how things like love and sex can keep death away temporarily, but eventually death comes for everyone. But what is “it”, exactly?
The Entity stems from an unknown curse that is left vague in the film. The curse is always passed through sexual intercourse and, once someone is afflicted, the Entity will follow them until they’re caught and killed. This could take days, weeks, months, or longer. Once someone is killed by the Entity, it goes down the line in order, starting with the person who infected the most recent victim, and so on. How long the line is remains unknown, as the origin of the curse could be recent or very old; the film never explains this in much detail, preferring to focus on the more recently affected and the connections between them.
Typically, new victims are informed of their fate. It seems like it would be in the best interest of the person who passed the curse onward to give the new victim a heads up regarding their situation so they can try to avoid it for as long as possible; there is no sign when the curse has been shifted backward, so even once it has been passed on, all victims must continue to be aware in case it’s their turn to be followed again. Only those who are affected by the curse, or have been affected at any time can physically see the Entity. Likewise, the Entity can take any form is seemingly limitless as to what form it can take or how many it can take on. The Entity does have a corporeal form, and can be touched. It can also simulate any human bodily function; it is not a ghost or spirit. No matter what, it always seems to move at a normal, walking pace and does not eat, sleep, or tire. Presumably, it cannot be killed and is resilient to damage but may take time to recover. The Entity is also supernaturally strong and can easily mangle and break bones and contort bodies, as is proven by the gruesome way it leaves its victims after they are killed.
Mitchell has fielded lots of questions about how one might avoid It Follows‘ Entity, and said that wherever someone can go – space, a remote island, the desert, undersea – the Entity could always follow. Like Death itself, it cannot be outrun forever.
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