Review: It Follows and Unfriended offer a much needed return to social commentary.
I think the release dates of It Follows and Unfriended are quite serendipitous. Let me explain why. I wholeheartedly agree with Dawn’s assessment that It Follows expounds upon one of horror’s greatest standing rules that if you have sex, you die. However, I feel that the movie speaks to a broader subject matter which includes age old gossip as well as the current digital age.
Yes, those who died in It Follows had sex. The horror however, lies in what follows from having sex. It speaks directly to reputation, image, self-worth, and literal images that follow the act. For decades prior to the cyber era, women especially feared for and guarded their reputation.
This reputation was often linked to perceptions of chastity (or lack thereof). Henceforth if one had sex, certain social repercussions could and did follow the act. For a modern frame of reference, think about the life altering consequences endlessly endured by Monica Lewinsky. All puritanical judgement aside, her sex act has left her with a lifetime of ghosts following her (some that may even appear as ones she loves, others as strangers) much like It Follows suggests.
In today’s cyber superhighway, digital images and words live in infamy. While Kim Kardashian made a living off of her recorded sexual liaisons, it is difficult to argue contrarily that the image will haunt her forever. Thousands of cyber-bullies and trolls have found ways to harvest people’s intimate moments, post them, and share them. In a world that favors the fake profiles of spineless bullies who prey on oversharing, unsuspecting people…all acts, images, and words over the internet will follow you. What I took away from It Follows was that sex triggers the butterfly effect on your life. One intimate moment can alter your universe. The film suggests that sex acts loom over you causing others to chastise you, kill you, or push you to death.
Here in lies the symbiotic link to Unfriended. First and foremost, I can’t fathom why it has taken this long to have a good horror movie focused on social media. There is nothing more terrifying than people willingly handing away their privacy to feign meaningful social interactions. Nonetheless, Unfriended uses Laura Barns as a medium to hold society accountable for their actions. She dredges up her peers’ dirty little secrets by using their own images, videos, and words against them. She offers up proof through their own digital admittances that they must be held accountable.
The tie that binds these two movies is that, these days everything you say or do can and will be used against you in the court of public opinion. What you post, the videos you take, the moments that you think are sacred…frequently become public knowledge and it most certainly will follow you. Like a tick, the digital era and social media will feast upon its host like a bulbous mass until it has leeched enough blood from its host that its swollen, distended body drops to the floor waiting for the next meal. Far from preaching repressive abstinence clichés, It Follows and Unfriended tout a certain reality about current times…every action has an opposite reaction. News (gossip) spreads faster than it ever did before and it has staying power. These films do continue a certain conservative nature of horror, but with validity in this case.
As far as my opinion on the two films, they both bring up unique and thought provoking ideas. I believe they return an important social commentary lacking in recent horror films. For It Follows, I give the concept a B+ but the execution a C. For Unfriended, I do agree with Elizabeth that the acting in Pretty Little Liars is much better (but I LOVE PLL so my opinion is skewed).
Regardless, the concept is an A and the execution B+. Nice work!