The indie horror “It Follows,” like “The Babadook” last year, is being hailed as a genuinely terrifying antidote to bigger budgeted couterparts, like “Ouija.” But its writer-director, David Robert Mitchell, doesn’t come from the genre. His last film was 2010’s “The Myth of the American Sleeper,” a tiny, sensitive “American Graffiti”-type teen movie. “It Follows” at times feels like that movie, with a 19-year-old (Maika Monroe) finding that, after sleeping with the guy she’s been seeing, she’s been gifted a strange curse: she will be followed by mysterious creatures visible only to her, who take on the form of regular people and will kill her if they ever catch her.
Let’s get this out of the way: Some people have read this along the lines of old slasher movies, in which sex equals death. Your version doesn’t seem to cut and dry, though.
I hope it goes beyond that. The characters certainly open themselves up to danger through sex. But sex is also a way in which they can be temporarily freed. It’s not so simple. To me, it’s not literally about sex. It’s about life in general, sex being a very important part of that. By the act of living we are in danger. We all live with the idea of mortality in the back of our mind, not knowing how long we’re here for. At a certain point you become more aware of that. And there is a direct to awareness of sexuality and awareness of mortality. Sex and love are ways in which we can push death away, at least for a moment. It’s a way of living in the moment.
Jay also doesn’t just sleep around. She sleeps with someone she’s been seeing.
Yeah, she cares about this person. Some people have read it as though that’s the first time she’s had sex. I don’t see that either. For me it’s not about demonizing sex, or some kind of puritanical statement, as some people have said. Everyone has the right to think what they want about the film; I don’t know how much my intentions matter. But it is interesting to see different reads on the movie. Horror films tend to create all kinds of responses.
It’s a genre that, moreso than respectable fare, really allows for unique and even transgressive ideas.
Audiences for horror films tend to allow filmmakers to be a little more experimental. You can get away with more than with other genres. You can do things that would irritate an audience or some people within other genres. Horror audiences are very open-minded.