REVIEW: It Follows

27 03 2015

It FollowsIn his soon-to-be classic modern horror film “It Follows,” David Robert Mitchell can even make a pronoun terrifying.  The word “it,” when standing alone in American slang, has referred to an appealing aura of sexuality dating back to Clara Bow’s 1927 romantic comedy “It,” which popularized the phrase “It Girl.”  But for Mitchell, “it” becomes practically a proper noun, one that refers to a haunting specter that stalks down a teenage victim after being passed on through sexual intercourse.

“It Follows” speaks the subtext that runs through a great number of films in the genre, turning implicit punishment for carnal impropriety into a tangible STD horror story.  Maika Monroe’s college-aged protagonist (or, dare I say, the “final girl”) Jay Height gets the story going by swapping fluids with her older boyfriend, Hugh, and subsequently contracting his condition.  Through this exchange, Jay becomes the main target of “it,” a spirit that can inhabit any body and is dead set on taking a victim, unless she passes the burden to someone else.

The story and premise almost sound comical when laid out in terms like those above, especially considering that Jay stubbornly and irrationally refuses to transfer the evil spirit.  Yet Mitchell’s impeccable technique make laughter practically unthinkable in “It Follows.” The film is far too unnerving to allow for such sentiments to bubble to the surface. Mitchell puts the typical, derivative offerings of horror to shame as he creates a work that stands as one of the best executed films in recent memory irrespective of genre. He combines the psychological madness of “Martha Marcy May Marlene” with the all-out bodily terror of “Black Swan” for one bone-chilling experience.

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REVIEW: The Myth of the American Sleepover

10 03 2015

American SleepoverI remember being 15 years old like it was just yesterday.  It was a time of excitement and newness as well as a period of confusion, longing, and frustration.  You begin to realize what it is that you personally want yet only have a rudimentary vocabulary to express it. The world seems so full of promise and potential, but so much of it seems locked away out of reach.

David Robert Mitchell’s atypical teen film “The Myth of the American Sleepover” captures this post-pubescent milieu with shocking accuracy.  He presents a vast array of characters in his ensemble, at least one of whom has to strike some sort of chord with a viewer.  They resist stereotypes and stock characterization quite ably, getting to the heart of what it really means to endure and enjoy this critical life juncture.

Mitchell’s script essentially consists of prolonged conversations between the characters, not advancing any sort of linear plot but rather chipping away at the facade they put up for others to view.  After a while, the film starts to run in circles and overstay its welcome as it ponders over the same adolescent conundrums.

Nonetheless, “The Myth of the American Sleepover” is a special kind of coming-of-age movie, simply because it does not show the process of change over a period of time.  Over the course of a single weekend at the end of summer, we learn all we need to know.  I just wish I had this movie to watch when I was still a teen and not discovered it as a twentysomething.  B2halfstars