This weekend’s new releases bring us one of the year’s most acclaimed horror flicks and Will Ferrell doing what he does best – mediocrity.
Jay (Maika Monroe) is a teenage girl who typically spends her days relaxing in her above-ground pool or just hanging out with her sister and friends. At the beginning of the movie, she is excited about a new guy that she’s been on a few dates with. This guy is clearly pushing her boundaries of intimacy and when she finally gives in, the excitement is only temporary. This guy later ties her to a wheelchair (thankfully not in the style of 50 Shades), not to torture her, but to make her see the truth.
As she sits there trying to cope with this vulnerable situation, the guy tells her this –
Listen closely, because there is something coming after you. You can run. You can drive away and that will give you more time. But, it’s always walking toward you. It won’t stop following until you pass it on or it finally reaches you.
She doesn’t quite believe his ramblings until she sees It in the form of a woman slowly walking towards the abandoned building they’re in. From that point on, she’s constantly fleeing from a foreboding and slowly moving death sentence. At times, she’ll be sitting in class and see an elderly woman shamble towards her or be having a sleepover when a window breaks in the kitchen. She cannot get rid of this STDemon unless she sleeps with someone else and pays it forward.
There are few movies that could get away with this nightmare after-school special plot. Somehow, It Follows does. It relies heavily on the atmosphere. Everything from the fashion, cars and synth soundtrack are tailor-made to fit in the ’80s. However, one of the friends has a very modern eReader, which threw me off entirely. Its intent is to match the look and tone of Halloween and The Nightmare on Elm Street.
This movie wants to be a cult classic. It almost grabs you by the collar and screams, “Love me for my retro style!” It actually tries a little too hard.
The acting ability of the relatively unknown cast isn’t great. The character Jay is more lethargic than how any functioning person would react in her situation. Because it’s hard to relate to her, it’s difficult to fear for her life whenever It gets close.
The fear brought on in It Follows is done through the concept and the score. The industrial synth tracks pay homage to John Carpenter’s Halloween. It’s very effective and manipulative. As the viewer, you feel dread when you see It slowly approaching. That is a marvel, because of budgetary constraints, It really is just a person (though typically naked) walking.
It Follows has gone through a ton of hype. It’s currently 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Because of that knowledge, I was actually a little disappointed by a movie that didn’t quite scare me. I loved the concept and the feeling of hopelessness, but it felt like a perfect idea that was ruined because the writer/director tried too hard to be indie. After I left, I felt that I’d seen a good movie, just not the next great horror movie. It’s worth watching at home with some friends, but not $10 at the theater.
And that’s when I left the theater after 10PM. The parking lot was nearly desolate. When I was saying bye to a buddy, some ambivalent stoner kid approached us and stopped. Then, as I went to the parking lot, with a quickness to my step, I saw someone else just slowly walking in my direction (almost surely walking to their car). But that’s the thing. It Follows took something as simple as someone walking towards you and made it scary. The movie could have used some work, but it may have a lasting effect on me.
In Get Hard, Will Ferrell has it all. He is an insanely great stock investor (because the movie tells us he is), he has a great house and is engaged to his Allison Brie, the daughter of his boss (Craig T. Nelson). He is more than happy to live in his gold-plated bubble and has little consideration for anyone less privileged.
Meanwhile, Kevin Hart is trying to secure a loan big enough to buy a house in a neighborhood nice enough to not send his daughter to a dangerous inner-city school.
When Ferrell is arrested for fraud (because it fits the plot), the judge sentences him to ten years in the notoriously dangerous San Quentin prison, but gives him a month to put his affairs in order. Ferrell then seeks out Hart and asks if he’ll coach him how to survive in prison. He assumes Hart is a former felon because he is black. This movie has no problem with pointing out every single stereotype imaginable.
Ferrell offers to pay Hart handsomely for the prison training. Ferrell’s estate soon becomes a simulated maximum security prison.
There’s a funny idea in here somewhere. But, it gets lost in the casual racism and homophobia. The movie becomes a 90 minute joke about trying not to get raped.
This could have actually worked if Will Ferrell was not in the movie. He mugs it up in every scene. Granted, there are many people who just think that the very appearance of a crying doofus is funny, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen throughout his entire film career. Kevin Hart is actually quite good. If he were opposite someone other than Ferrell, this movie may have been something good, rather than being forgotten the second the credits roll.
There is one good scene in the movie where Hart role-plays three different characters in a prison and Ferrell suffers in the crossfire. It was genuinely good. Otherwise, this is a movie that Adam McKay (Anchorman 2) wrote on a napkin. “Wouldn’t it be funny if Will Ferrell was afraid of getting raped?”
I chuckled twice. I tried to force myself to laugh at times, but I still have some sort of internal integrity. Don’t see this movie. D.