How To Avoid The Haunting Monster Of "It Follows"
Would you be safe if you had sex with an astronaut? The writer and director of the disturbing film talks survival strategies with BuzzFeed News. Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD!
It's a testament to how scary a movie It Follows is that for days after watching it, you walk around thinking up survival plans — should you hide, stay on the move forever, pass the haunting on to someone else? Writer-director David Robert Mitchell's indie horror hit has a deliberate dreaminess to it that can't really be battled with logic, but it's impossible not to try. Its characters certainly do, and they eventually come up with a scheme to electrocute the sexually transmitted monster in an abandoned swimming pool. "It's the worst plan in the world," Mitchell says, in a phone interview with BuzzFeed News. "Even if they were able to electrify that pool, I don't think that that would solve it. Nothing within the physical world that any kind of teenager could come up with, any sort of plan, is actually going to be successful."
But what about the rest of us? With It Follows now open in over 1,600 theaters, we gathered some survival scenarios from Twitter, from other analyses of the film, and from several BuzzFeed staffers, then ran some survival scenarios past Mitchell to see what his take might be on how to get away from, or at least temporarily escape, the monster that ends up stalking his heroine Jay (Maika Monroe).
Getting on a plane, hopefully somewhere far away — like Australia
Mitchell points out that his characters also give in to the impulse to get away. "They go up north. They do what's within their means. They're teenagers and also of a certain economic level. They don't have a lot of resources."
But what if you did have the cash, or at least a good credit card? "Could you get away from it for longer periods of time? I'm sure you could. Anywhere that you can physically go, it could get there as well. It's ultimately about the idea that you don't know when this thing will arrive and how long you have. To me, that's the most terrible part of it. In a way, it may even be worse. You could get away from it for months, if you're flying to Europe and then back again. At a certain point, you'd have to be keeping track of it."
He's willing to concede that constant travel might be a way out. "Maybe that's one person, with incredibly elaborate means and a great deal of wealth. But I would also say things go wrong, things always go wrong in life, and there are things that would be difficult to anticipate. I've been on a plane before where there have been problems and they've had to go back to the gate. That's the worst situation, where you're sitting there on this plane, waiting for them to the close the door."
Boarding a boat — maybe getting work on a cruise ship
"It's the same kind of thing," Mitchell laughs. "I've had people ask me about going into space, getting on a submarine. I think they're hilarious — I love that people are thinking about it. But it's really the same answer. Anywhere you go, it can also go. It could get to you. You might escape for long periods of time if you plan just perfectly, but it'd be very easy to screw up. If you have to live on the run, though, a cruise ship might be a nice place to do that."
He feels that any kind of running away, whether by air or by sea, is just a temporary fix. "I don't think there's a place on the planet or in our known universe that a person could get to that this couldn't find a way to reach. If people want to live in a submarine or hang out in space, they can try, but I have a feeling that it's going to get them there."
Locking yourself up in a bunker forever
Mitchell allows that you could "probably survive for a long time that way," but then notes that the monster might not be easily dissuaded by a locked door. "We're privy to certain things within the film. The rules of the monster are explained to us by a character based on what he has witnessed and seen. I don't know that we totally understand the extent of the monster's strength, what it's capable of in terms of changing shape and changing form, what that might mean."
That said, he claims that hiding away "would probably be something that I would try to do if I had access to a place like that. I don't know of anybody who has. If you had another way out of it, if it wasn't just one entrance, that might not be bad to at least try [while you] figure out what you're going to do next."
Participating in a massive orgy
"The problem is, it's the same issue you'd have with passing it to someone you don't tell, or giving it to a prostitute," Mitchell says, referring to a tactic one of the characters appears to at least consider. "If people don't know what it is that they're dealing with, then it's that much easier for them to be killed."
Mitchell points out that "even if there were hundreds of people between you and it, if you're talking about the most insane orgy ever imagined, unless everybody understood what it was that's actually happening and that they would be haunted by this thing, you'd have a lot of people being killed very quickly, and it would get back to you." Also, that's just not very nice. "A lot of these things are either too expensive or not kind," he adds.
Keeping to same-sex hookups
No. According to Mitchell, the monster is not heteronormative. "It will follow anyone. If it's sex, it counts. The monster would not discriminate in regards to sex and whether it's heterosexual or homosexual. The monster will follow you."
"I did a Q&A last night, and someone asked me if condoms helped. The answer is no."
Never getting past third base
"People wanted me to put something about that in the script," Mitchell admits, going on to explain that he didn't want to talk about "the mechanics of this" in the film. "I'll talk about it with you now, but I'm not putting that in the movie," he said, noting that he's been asked about what specific sex acts might count and has refused to go through them all. "We were joking that that would make a funny scene. 'Now do you see it? Did it work yet?'"
Mitchell's been clear that his film's not a "puritanical statement" about punishing characters for having sex. Abstinence might keep you alive, but he adds, "How terrible is that? I wouldn't advocate for that, either. That sounds rough."