Breaking down Quentin Tarantino's 'It Follows' critique
In his much-talked about interview with Lane Brown over at Vulture, Quentin Tarantino mentioned liking, but not loving, David Robert Mitchell's sleeper indie horror flick "It Follows," saying in part: “It's one of those movies that’s so good that you start getting mad at it for not being great. The fact that he didn't take it all the way makes me not just disappointed but almost a little angry.”
So how would he have fixed it? We now have the answer, thanks to a new "outtake" from the interview that went up this morning.
"How could It Follows have been great? Would you have done something differently?"
"He [writer-director David Robert Mitchell] could have kept his mythology straight. He broke his mythology left, right, and center. We see how the bad guys are: They're never casual. They're never just hanging around. They've always got that one look, and they always just progressively move toward you. Yet in the movie theater, the guy thinks he sees the woman in the yellow dress, and the girl goes, 'What woman?' Then he realizes that it's the follower. So he doesn't realize it's the follower upon just looking at her? She’s just standing in the doorway of the theater, smiling at him, and he doesn’t immediately notice her? You would think that he, of anybody, would know how to spot those things as soon as possible. We spotted them among the extras."
Is it nitpicking? A little, but Tarantino still makes a solid point here. I tend to miss details like this when I'm as engrossed in a movie as I was at "It Follows" (still the best horror film I've seen this year), and the moment in question comes before we get a good sense of the nature of the "monster" (which takes on different human forms throughout the film). If it had come later on, the inconsistency probably would have felt more glaring.
"The movie keeps on doing things like that, not holding on to the rules that it sets up. Like, okay, you can shoot the bad guys in the head, but that just works for ten seconds? Well, that doesn't make any fucking sense. What's up with that? And then, all of a sudden, the things are aggressive and they're picking up appliances and throwing them at people? Now they're strategizing? That's never been part of it before. I don't buy that the thing is getting clever when they lower him into the pool. They're not clever."
I agree with the latter point in particular. I and a number of other people I've spoken with about the film had an issue with the climactic scene at the community pool, where Jay (Maika Monroe) and her friends try to electrocute "It" by luring it into the water and setting up electrical appliances around the perimeter. A monster that had previously been depicted as a lethargic, almost passive force suddenly outsmarting its prey felt at odds with the way it had been depicted previously.
That said, there is an almost dreamlike inconsistency at the heart of the film that made these aberrations less glaring than they would have been in a more conventional movie. I was actually okay with the ambiguity of "It's" true nature, and I think there is some danger in picking a movie apart too much. Some of our greatest films have narrative/logical imperfections.
"Also, there’s the gorgeously handsome geeky boy — and everyone's supposed to be ignoring that he's gorgeous, because that’s what you do in movies — that kid obviously has no problem having sex with her and putting the thing on his trail. He's completely down with that idea. So wouldn't it have been a good idea for her to fuck that guy before she went into the pool, so then at least two people could see the thing? It’s not like she'd have been tricking him into it. It’s what I would've done."
A fair point! But just like those of us in the real world, movie characters can sometimes overlook the obvious (or, in the above case, morally difficult) answers.
What do you think of Tarantino's critique?
For more on this story, check out Mitchell's response here.