Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Panic in Detroit

When I think what movie I would consider the best of 2015, I keep going back to It Follows, a low-key, low-budget horror movie written and directed by David Robert Mitchell.  Filmed in Detroit, Michigan, it casts a furious spell; you don't really need to understand what's going on because It Follows follows its own sort of poetic nature out of itself, and as it moves forward you get sucked into its rust-belt-flavored richness, its atmosphere and logic.  The plot details trumped-up supernatural goings-on that don't make too much sense, outside of the fact that a lot of teenagers have to run from zombie-like figures that are conjured when they have sex.  That conceit alone is worth the price of admission of course, like a takedown of all those 80s horror flicks that make violent death the wages of sin, but here there's something else all together happening, not exactly parody or pastiche as much as nightmare-nostalgia.  Mitchell is interested in a certain tone that John Carpenter got back in the day in Halloween, The Fog, and The Thing, a foreboding slow-burn fueled by Moog and mood to the point you start to feel the horrors ripen slowly into haikus:  the way the old sad neighborhood glows around dusk, the way car-lights glare in abandoned parking garages, the way weedy backyards seem to engulf themselves in raw luxury... 
The characters in It Follows exist in a suburban netherworld full of half-lit porches and stony paths, windows ripe for breaking into, above-ground swimming pools full of old possibly toxic water.  The insides of the houses have a claustrophobic stylized blush to them, like the interior-decoration and lighting involved in David Lynch's Blue Velvet.  Lampshades and walls seem to hum like insane asylum residents.  So there's that Velvety quality too, that sense of a director/writer biting into the world so we can digest it.  It Follows is an exercise in ragged spookiness and B-movie acting, but then again there's a glaze over all of it, a glamor borne out of the fact that this movie isn't meant to scare you, it's meant to put you into a Detroit trance.  You don't just watch -- you kind of climb into it, like a cave or the trunk of a great big car. 
Can't wait for Mitchell's next move.