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It Follows (2015)
Bar Harbor
I really like this indie horror film (though Kestrell was “meh”). It’s sort of a mix of M.R. James’ “Casting the Runes” and an 80s slasher flick. The protagonist is being followed by an implacable monster that is guaranteed to kill them unless they passed this curse on to someone else first – by having sex with them. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen a sexually transmitted CURSE.

I thought it worked well on a number of levels. It’s a scary horror movie, obviously. It’s also in some ways a meditation on inevitable mortality, and the ways in which we try to avoid it; In a move that reverses the 80s trope that sex equals death, in this film sex is the only mechanism by which you can (temporarily) avert death. And it’s a great example of rules-based storytelling.

Being who I am, I feel compelled to analyze the rules in some detail. Naturally, this involves heavy spoilers.

• Once you become a Target, It will follow you until it catches you, and then kill you – unless you create a new Target first.
• You create a new Target by having sex with them.
o Open question: What’s the precise definition of “sex” here?
o (In an interview, the director says that condoms won’t prevent it, and that it does work with same-sex sex.)
o Open question: Does a Target remain “infectious” after having had sex with one other person? Can they infect multiple people?
o Open question: If a couple has sex multiple times, do they trade Target-ness back and forth?
• If It reaches Its Target, It will kill them.
o Violently, and at least sometimes in a sexualized manner.
o Once the current Target is dead, It will resume tracking the previous Target. Or at least, that seems to be the case; the person who states it as fact is not a reliable reporter.
o Hence, passing on the curse is only a temporary reprieve.
o Open question: What happens if It ever empties Its list by catching Target Zero?
o Open question: How did this curse originate?
• It is mostly invisible; only people on the Target List can see It.
o Even the people who can see It, do not see Its actual form, but some projection.
o Some of these projections appear to be previous victims of It.
o Others are people close to the current Target.
o Unclear how it knows who to change into. Has it seen those people? Or just photographs of them? Or did it pull the images telepathically from the Target?
o It usually appears either naked or scantily clad.
o It can change its appearance rapidly, but never seems to do this while it is being looked at.
o Open question: Do cameras see It?
o Open question: if there are multiple people who can see It at the same time, do they see the same projection?
o There is only one of It. When the protagonists sees multiple friends approaching in a group, they feel confident that none of them are secretly It.
• It has a physical body that is probably roughly humanoid.
o It can be hurt.
o Being hurt can cause It to react against Its attacker, momentarily distracting it from the current Target.
o It can absorb a lot of punishment and keep going.
o Open question: did the protagonists actually managed to shoot it enough to kill it at the climax of the film?
o When It is shot, there are spatters of red blood.
o Open question: Is the blood visible to non-Targets?
o It cannot walk through walls.
o It can smash through weak obstacles, but prefers to find open doors.
o It seems to be about as strong as a strong human.
o When It touches human skin, there is a corrosive or burning effect.
• It walks towards Its Target.
o It always is aware where Its Target is located.
o Open question: How?
o Open question: What senses does It possess?
o It walks at a steady, normal human pace.
o It was once seen to leap at a Target which was in close range.
o When feasible, It walks in a direct line.
o It will walk around, or climb over obstacles.
o It knows how to open doors.
o It sometimes knocks on locked doors, but in a repetitive, unnatural manner.
o It knows how to break windows and climb through.
o It was once seen breaking a window with a rock. Presumably, It could smash the window directly, but is trying to avoid harm from broken glass.
o It was once seen having climbed onto the roof of the Target’s house.
• Open question: How smart is It?
o It is never observed to speak, or attempt communication in any obvious fashion.
o The “knocking” behavior might just be an attempt to pound the door open.
o It hides Its approach to the Target solely by virtue of its physical appearance; It makes no attempt at deceitful behavior which would allow it to more easily approach without detection.
o We never see It in the side of vehicle of any kind.
o (In an interview, the director says that It could hypothetically get on an airplane that took it closer to Its Target.)
• It doesn’t like water
o Throughout the film, Targets seem to instinctively move towards large bodies of water.
o When the protagonist is in the center of a large swimming pool, It is clearly reluctant to enter. It physically hurls objects at the Target from the edge of the pool for a while, only entering the pool itself when attacked.
o It is capable of swimming, at least minimally.
o Hypothesis: Whatever mechanism it uses to be “invisible” is less effective when it is immersed in water. (This movie probably didn’t have the budget to show such an effect.)


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