I adore horror. I blame it on watching Nosferatu (B/W 1922) when I was 7. Darkened room. Middle of the afternoon. Slept with my sheets over my neck for years (years) after.
I watched It Follows & The Babadook back to back & It Follows completely impressed me. No spoilers so all I’ll say is – A super simple horror conceit. Totally effective.
It creeped me out for days and I realized It Follows reworks a very simple horror device central to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein that occurs in the moment the creature comes to life and looks at Frankenstein:
‘…by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs…..
He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs.’
Frankenstein’s horrified response is rooted in becoming (in Laura Mulvey’s terms) the object of the gaze and the shift in power that occurs in that instant. Lots more to say but you need to see it first.
The Babadook riffs on another classic in the supernatural horror genre, Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw. (minor spoilers). The film plays off the mother’s loss and her psychological state as possible set-ups for the horror as it unfolds. And like James’ Screw, the story plays out with delicious ambiguity. Of the two, It Follows is still creeping under my skin. Depending on the day, out of the blue, I’ll see someone & there it is. The best kind of horror.