Monthly Archives: April 2015

It Follows

it folllowsFirst rule of horror movie club: Don’t see one in the theater by yourself. There was only one other person in the theater when my friends and I saw “It Follows” tonight, which means she was completely comfortable possibly watching it alone or … maybe she wasn’t there at all and we’re all cursed.

It was just a movie, it was just a movie, it was just a movie. I need to keep telling myself that.

I also tried telling myself, during the movie, that it wasn’t that scary. It didn’t work. The reviews about “It Follows” being the scariest movie this year are right and I should be watching cartoons or “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” right now to try to forget about it. I’ll try to write away the fear instead.

Here we go. The movie, filmed in Detroit, focuses on Jay (Maika Monroe) and a curse she receives when she sleeps with Hugh (AKA Jeff.)

Hugh knowingly passes on the curse to Jay so he can escape it, at least somewhat. Essentially, the curse is a demon that “follows” people in various human forms only they can see. The only way to get rid of the curse, and ultimately not be killed by it, is to sleep with someone else and pass it on.

At first Jay, her sister and their friends spend time both trying to find where the curse is coming from and to escape it.

For that reason the fear factor in “It Follows” has a slow burn, which ultimately made the film all the more scary. It also allows time for the viewer to realize that waiting to find out when the demon will appear next and what it could do is even more frightening than when something actually happens.

The pace of revealing what haunts Jay coupled with a consistently played score reminiscent of 1970s/1980s horror films and work by John Carpenter built a tension and fear that I couldn’t ignore or talk myself out of as the end of the story approached.

The use of the score as a critical component, even a character in some respects, in It Follows brought to mind similarities to how music is incorporated into the film “Drive.” They’re two very different films but the music in “Drive” is also a callback to the past (in this case the 1980s) and does have a largely instrumental composition that is consistently played throughout the film.

Overall, I appreciate how the writer/director of “It Follows,” David Robert Mitchell, developed an idea within the horror genre that feels new and fresh and is as thought-provoking as it is terrifying.

Even with the main cast being a group of teenagers, including a pretty girl, nerd, outcast, jock, etc., “It Follows
 does not fall into the stereotypes horror films can have and I hope Mitchell keeps up his momentum in the genre, as long as it’s with a new film.

There is, of course, the risk Mitchell, or someone else could continue what’s been started with It Follows and make a sequel. In fact, there was news about the possibility of a sequel to the film released today.

I can’t say Mitchell wouldn’t be successful at making It Follows 2 or that the ending, as with most horror movies, doesn’t provide the impetus for a sequel but I my vote is to just let it be.

That is all. (I’m still a little scared.)

Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter

kumikoIf there is one thing I would recommend before seeing Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter, it’s actually best to know as little as possible about the true story that it’s based on.

I saw the trailer for the film in February and was fascinated with the premise and portrayal of the quest of a Japanese woman, Takako Konishi (Rinko Kikuchi), to find the money buried in the movie Fargo, which she believed was real.

Watching the film with only that little bit of information in the back of my mind added to the mystery of it and Kumiko’s character as she is seen working in an office in Tokyo while plotting how she will travel to the U.S. to find her treasure.

Interestingly the filmmakers, David and Nathan Zellner, were able to keep away from media coverage of the story they were telling so it wouldn’t influence their creativity while they completed the project, according to an article from Indiewire.

The Zellners, who are brothers living in Austin, started their script for Kumiko in 2001, a year that does coincide with the true story. While they did want to stick to the facts and portray Konishi as an accurate character,  the Zellners also wanted to tell the story in their own way.

They also took their time – 10 years – developing the project. Some of the delay was voluntary, some not, but it proved to be a benefit for the Zellners, who premiered the film at Sundance last year and earned critical acclaim.

Once the film was over, my mentality (temporarily) switched from not wanting to know anything to wanting to know everything about the story. I wanted to know more about Kumiko’s character and why she thought what she saw in the movie Fargo was real and that it was her destiny to find it. Now, having thought about it for a day, I am satisfied with the mystery and unknowns the Zellners presented in the film while appreciating their technique in cinematography, writing and storytelling.

The film was made both in Japan and Minnesota and the transition from one location to the next and the differences between the cultures exemplified Kumiko’s struggle as she tries to find her treasure and — ultimately — happiness.

Visually, the composition of scenes with Kumiko in Tokyo compared to the sudden stark winter landscape she faced, seemingly without fear, was stunning to watch.

Music, by The Octopus Project, added to the haunting components of the film and overall the instrumental soundtrack was fitting to accompany Kumiko on her journey.

There was a small amount of humor in the film, but for the most part I found it to be sad and dark and hard to watch at times, even with the way the Zellners chose to portray the end to the story.

I know I’ve said it before, but movies can be a escape, especially for me. Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter is easy to get lost in and think about what the journey was like for her and the people she did meet along the way.

Maybe this is all too much information about the film and true story anyway, but keep an open mind about it and I definitely recommend seeing it. It turns out it is doing well in the theater and there will be at least another week of shows in Minneapolis.

Follow your destiny. It’s on page 95.

That is all.