It Follows' metaphor aims to empower women through sex

Mar 12, 2015 at 12:55 p.m. ET
Image: Radius/TWC

Inspired by the classic films of Alfred Hitchcock, the new frightening movie It Follows takes one overused horror genre rule and flips it on its head. For once in a horror film, sex means freedom and empowerment.

It Follows, like many of the classic horror films from the '60s and '70s, is a quiet film, with minimal dialogue and exposition. The story follows a middle-class teenager, Jay (Maika Monroe), a pretty girl suffering from suburban malaise. Jay is eager to discover more about herself and the world around her but channels her curiosity into a hot and heavy attraction to Greg (Daniel Zovatto), who's more than eager to drive Jay out to the woods for a make-out session. The lovers have sex and that's when the story begins.

It Follows

In classic horror/slasher movies, it's sex and promiscuity that lead the characters down a road of terrible, frightening consequences, suggesting that only the chaste and pure will make it out of the movie alive. This idea goes all the way back to Adam and Eve, when they each bit into the forbidden fruit and suddenly obtained the knowledge of good and evil.

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Immediately after Jay and Greg "bite the apple," Greg ties up Jay and carefully explains the rules of her new reality. Greg claims something demonic, or otherworldly, has been following him, stalking him in a menacing way. The only way to free himself was to pass the monster off to another person through sex. Now, Jay must do the same.

The writer/director of It Follows, David Robert Mitchell, said, "It's not about condemning, or making a puritanical statement. It's about doing something more than that." Meaning that sex now becomes something more than a shameful act for our heroine, Jay — it is now her salvation.

Through sex, she can unload the burden of this supernatural monster and become empowered.

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Of course, there are consequences to passing this sexually transmitted demon off to another soul, but what makes this story different is that Jay can choose not to remain the victim, a psychological state where most women in horror films get stuck.

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It Follows provides a fresh take or horror that is fitting for 2015. Darkness follows all of us at some time or another and the film captures that terror in a smart, compelling way that takes the genre in an exciting new direction.

It Follows opens Friday, March 13.


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