March 12, 2015

"It Follows": The anti-'80s horror film about not trusting anybody and only looking out for Number One

There's a lot of buzz about the retro vibe of a new horror film, It Follows, but its variations are inversions on the classic themes of the slasher movies of the '70s and '80s.

I don't think I'll be seeing it, and so can't say whether it succeeds on its own terms. I'm more interested in how people, especially so-called film buffs, perceive the past and how it compares with the present. With all the talk about it being a radically fresh incarnation of the '80s slasher flick, it looks like they've totally missed the message.

Here is the movie's trailer, and a full plot synopsis from Wikipedia. Let's look at just how opposite its treatment is of the major themes of the slasher / horror genre during its heyday in the '80s.

Who or what is the danger? Ultimately, it's some supernatural stalker that kills you once it slowly reaches you. But the stalker has no direction of its own, unlike Freddie Krueger who wanted to get revenge on the children of the adults who fire-bombed his house after the justice system failed to lock up the serial child rapist-murderer. Or unlike a psycho who picks victims on a whim, where it's still his choice, however lacking in motivation the choice may strike us.

Instead, the stalker is passed along from one victim to the next like a curse. After the current victim has sex with someone, the stalker drops the current target like a hot potato and turns single-mindedly toward the person they had sex with. In order to escape the stalker, your only hope is to pass it along to someone else after the most intimate kind of encounter. Since even hinting at your ulterior motives would make it impossible to make it with the next victim, your goal is to dupe them.

Thus, the true danger is not a supernatural entity, but anybody who might possibly be interested in you sexually, including all of your opposite-sex peers. You can never know which ones are just trying to dupe you into becoming the next victim in order to save their own skin.

With time being of the essence, you'll choose the quickest and easiest victim to dupe. Since that means somebody who already trusts you, you will naturally go after one of your own friends and acquaintances to pass it along to, rather than a stranger. A stranger would be wary of a random horndog guy trying to get into her pants, or a too-good-to-be-true case of a cute girl you don't even know throwing herself at you.

The real enemy, with a real motive, is therefore a close insider rather than an outsider. In the '80s slasher movies, it was someone within the neighborhood or community, but not within your most narrow and intimate social circle. That made it possible to band together with your peers against a common enemy. That left a fairly large social circle that could be trusted as a sanctuary from evil.

In the world of It Follows, there is no minimal social circle that you can trust. You are utterly on your own, and if you find yourself stalked by the entity, you are only going to look out for Number One by cynically and deceitfully passing it on to someone else.

According to the movie's rules, you cannot even sacrifice yourself to spare others, as the stalker will continue backward along the chain of transmission once it claims its first victim. Trying to take one for the team by allowing it to kill you would spare potential future targets, but would not protect those who came before you in the chain.

In the movie's logic, cooperation and altruism are pointless.

These are not minor, nitpick-y differences. They get at the fundamental themes of the horror genre -- what is the source of danger, how can we prepare for it before it finds us, how can we deal with it when it does show up, and how can we cope with its aftermath? In the classic slasher movies, these themes all led to pro-social solutions. In the Millennial version, they are anti-social.

Taking a broader objective view of the history of horror, is this really such a new inversion anyway? Not really: the classic '90s anti-slasher movie Scream had already placed the source of danger from within one's most intimate social circle.

However, It Follows has turned up the dial. In Scream, the idea that evil was so close that you couldn't trust your closest friends and partners was only revealed in a shock ending. Throughout most of the movie, you felt as though it were another case of a psycho killer coming from outside the circle of friends. It Follows lays out the anti-social paranoia from the get-go. Also, in Scream the killer's motive was revenge for his mother, which is at least somewhat pro-social. Mindless, cynical self-preservation is the only motive in It Follows.

During the bridge of the early '90s, Twin Peaks left it an open mystery who the killer was, for the captivating episodes anyway. The teenagers may have suspected one another, but they may also have suspected an adult from the community, an outsider, or a supernatural force. Unlike straight horror movies where the evil entity is known from early on, the unresolved mystery in Twin Peaks led to a tension between trusting and suspecting your closest friends and community members.

Lurid plots involving the closest of friends coldly and psychopathically killing each other have also long been a staple on Law & Order: SVU.

The main innovation of It Follows is the logic of how the evil entity "selects" its targets, but that's just a gimmicky plot device. It's still largely of a piece with the Scream-and-after era of horror movies.

The change in approaches to these themes follows straightforwardly from the phases of the social cycle, which alternates between a outgoing / trusting phase (roughly the '60s through the '80s) and a cocooning / suspicious phase ('90s through today).

I find it mind-boggling that film nerds compare stuff like this to classic slasher movies, all because it has an eerie synth soundtrack. In narrative substance, It Follows could not be any more of a bizarro '80s movie.

32 comments:

  1. Its also too self-aware. The morality of the original slasher movies - teens getting punished for being promiscuous - was more subtle, until it was articulated by film buffs on the Internet.

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  2. The passing-on-the-danger story reminds me of Melmoth the Wanderer. I would note that the Ring/Ringu did something similar not terribly long ago (although long enough to use VHS tapes), although I believe in one version the protagonist dooms her own father, while in another it goes to someone already on death row.

    The retro-style horror movies I'd recommend are Beyond the Black Rainbow and Amer. The director of the former has stated that he wrote it partly as a "take that" to the 60s, but the bad guys seem like strange outsiders relative to normal society (represented in the movie by a couple of metalheads).

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  3. Yes. I agree. This sounds a lot closer to Asian/J-Horror than anything American 80s. Even the poster of a girl tied to a chair harkens back to early millennial torture-porn imagery. Check out the trailer for the Poltergeist remake, if you haven't, if you must. See how much they try and sell it as something closer to Ju-On than the original Poltergeist. I would not recommend seeing Amer, Beyond the Black Rainbow or The Strange Color of Your Body's Tears. All three are overly"self-conscious" art film wannabes using retro triggers. Throw Berberian Sound Studio on the pile of who cares as well.

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  4. I didn't like Berberian Sound Studio quite as much, perhaps because a lot of it was just listening to sounds and watching them made. Amer is also very heavily reliant on sound, but the sound is used to characterize the imagery (usually in close-up) to create a sort of immediacy. It's impossible for an audiovisual medium to convey tactile experience, but I'd say Amer is the film that has tried hardest to do so.

    I haven't seen Strange Colors (from the makers of Amer) or The Duke of Burgundy (for the Berberian director), though I've heard bad things about the latter. I''d rather see interesting failures than yet another slasher though.

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  5. What's tiresome about the self conscious retro/throwback movies is that they're basically signalling right off the bat that they've got nothing that interesting to say.

    Sure, George Lucas admitted early and often that Star Wars was a pastiche of several beloved mid century sources. But Lucas never said that Star Wars was intended to be an exacting reproduction of those sources. And he's right; Star Wars feels like the product of a group of talented artists in an exciting period.

    The artists of the 70's/80's readily admitted their tastes and influences but put their own skilled and tasteful spin on them (they also were invariably influenced by the colorful period they were made in, though their egos often don't let them admit it).

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  6. "Even the poster of a girl tied to a chair harkens back to early millennial torture-porn imagery."

    Good point. Something very underrated about mid 70's-very early 90's pop culture is that the most successful movies usually kept suffering to a minimum. Even the posters (check out the Omen ('76) or Halloween ('78) wisely avoided tawdry, brash imagery that would've offended a large chunk of the public. Especially teen girls who wisely became more targeted by studios in the later 70's. It's not like boyfriends always call the shots, you know.

    Even Friday the 13th has very brief periods where we actually see people in fear or pain. Only one of the protagonists knows they are in danger for a great deal of time, and that character triumphs anyway. That's why the "final girl" formula became popular; for most of the movie, the kids don't even realize they are in danger. It isn't until the last 20 minutes of the movie that the danger is revealed (in the form of dead friends typically) to what's left of the cast, typically just 1 girl.

    One of the classic cheap shots at slasher movies is that the cast is brain dead. Yet these critics evidently didn't notice that in the early slashers in particular, most the victims have no particularly good reason to be aware of a threat. In Halloween, Micheal Meyers hides from literally everyone besides Laurie until he's about to kill them. The necessity of hiding the danger from characters is what led to the villain having a ghost-like quality of popping in and out of the movie.

    Besides, one of the things that sold these movies is watching young, carefree people having fun. If the cast is having fun, so is the audience. It's interesting that the much less popular post 1984 slashers often have characters who are much more aware of the threat.

    Indeed, beginning in 1986/1987 we began to have Halloween/Nightmare on Elm Street/Friday the 13th movies in which a character (often one from a previous movie) is aware of danger from the outset and also has some special power or knowledge to stop the threat.

    Laurie, Alice, and Nancy in the early entries were just ordinary people who were suddenly thrust into a dangerous situation and had to be more resilient and brave than their unlucky friends.

    There's a book, Blood Money, that really analyzes the financial background, the tone, and the themes of 80's slasher movies. He even breaks down how much gore and suffering are in each movie. It turns out that relatively few slashers were popular, and the ones that did make a lot of money had relatively good taste, sympathetic characters, and crafty marketing. If it was all about dumb people being terrorized, there would've been a lot more successful slashers. The author also points out that there was nothing that unusual about the slasher film cycle, as the nature of film cycles is basically the same regardless of whatever the subject of the cycle is.

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  7. "Its also too self-aware. The morality of the original slasher movies - teens getting punished for being promiscuous - was more subtle, until it was articulated by film buffs on the Internet."

    Oh goody, that chestnut. C'mon, don't fall for that BS pushed by Boomer critics (feminists were pushing this in the 80's) who scoffed at the MTV age. Teens goof off and carouse, that's just how they are. And were, especially in the 70's/early 80's. Wild characters were in these movies to provide entertainment, not to push some bizarrely wrathful morality. John Carpenter is a liberal, Sean S Cunningham started in porn (pornographers are not known for being reactionary), and Wes Craven was an academic and associate of Cunningham who's dark (but apolitical) imagination alienated him from the New York sophisticate set that he'd been a part of.

    I'll give you the fact that the final girl is often more sensitive and responsible, but that seems more about realism than sending a message. And, to use Halloween again, Laurie is actually the primary target of Micheal's attention (for reasons not explained) and part of the reason she is the last is because he's taunting her. If the other character's had seen him several times I don't think they would've had sex or gotten as drunk/high.

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  8. It also ought to be noted that Wild Teen Characters existed in every film genre in the 70's/80's. Were slasher creators supposed to have every character be a puritan to dodge loopy analysis that claimed that these films served as an over the top morality tale?

    Again, I also find it baffling that a notoriously liberal industry would be charged with promoting restrained sexual morality. Most of the Boomers who made these movies were pretty damn slutty themselves.

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  9. That whole punishing sex idea seems to be a Gay contribution to the genre from Kevin Williamson and the 90s. Read into that what you will. It is true that characters that were not wildly decadent were more likely to survive in 80s slashers but that hardly makes the morality of the film's that of a prairie schoolmarm. Unless, I suppose, you equate wildly deviant sex with regular sex. Interesting to note that most of the classic slashers and many fondly remembered 80s horror came from independent sources. That self-awareness that arose mid to late 80s came after the sub-genre was mostly controlled by large studios.

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  10. "That self-awareness that arose mid to late 80s came after the sub-genre was mostly controlled by large studios."

    The sincere, free spirited, creative, generally amiable nature of 60's-80's culture was becoming a bit strained by the end of the Reagan Era and was on the verge of collapsing by 1991. I don't think Studio Vs. Independent had a lot to do with snarky meta crap in movies.

    The horror website Hysteria Lives wisely considers 1978-1984 to be a different period for horror (and really, art/culture in general) than the post 1985 period. Many of the goofier/higher concept/snarkier horror flicks of the period were often defended with the idea that one could no longer take "traditional" horror seriously. Seems like a half assed excuse to cover up waning inspiration, empathy ("all these movies have idiot casts"), and sincerity.

    I also wonder if the accelerating inequality and multiculturalism of the later 70's/1980's was beginning to take it's toll. I wonder if the usually privileged and status conscious white liberals who make these movies were beginning to lose interest in believable, sympathetic, and ordinary characters. Modesty, stoicism, and compassion are common in low inequality eras so perhaps the late 80's was when we really entered modern high inequality. Maybe that made it hip to make art with wacky, obnoxious, self aware characters who didn't resonate well with the unpretentious 70's/early 80's.

    The number of sequels began to ramp up big time in the mid-late 80's, though they wouldn't be very popular until 1989. That was also the year that Batman was huge (a comic book movie, and not even a very good one to boot) on the strength of wall to wall marketing.

    As audiences grew less adventurous and creators began to run short on inspiration, there was an increasing focus on rehashing pre existing characters as well as more and more effort put into sustained big budget marketing. When the quality is lacking, you've gotta tell people that a movie is in event that "you can't miss". There was also more and more movies based on the dreaded high concept (e.g. we don't trust the audience to take in interest in more believable characters and situations).

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  11. "The horror website Hysteria Lives wisely considers 1978-1984 to be a different period for horror (and really, art/culture in general)"

    The harvest golden age.

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  12. A definite golden period. 1981, of course, being the peak year in that period for slashers. Even something like Halloween 2 has gained substance over the years with its small town under siege aftermath and likeable hospital workers. I remember seeing it as a child and liking it alright but as an adult, after years of millennial cinema, it was a real pleasure. Even though it can't compare to the early part of the decade, late 80s horror had some gems and the F/X craft was at its height. Some horror films from 87: The Lost Boys, The Hidden, The Monster Squad, Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Prince of Darkness, Stage Fright, Dolls and Angel Heart.

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  13. Yeah, I agree that the "virginal girl" theory is bull. Watching the movies, you get more the impression that the filmmakers were warning teens that their festivities tend to provoke sickos, and that they should be careful who they deal with. This was back when an older guy hanging around partying teens would be more tolerated.

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  14. Plus, it was just a reflection of reality. Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Wayne Gacey, and Son of Sam all preyed on young people.

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  15. The formula of the virgin girl being the hero and death of the bad/slutty girls and jerks was real, but its roots really came from the fact that slasher/horror movies appealed to teen virgin girls to get them sexually excited: fear is an aphrodisiac to females. Making the chick the hero in a horror film is no different than making the awkward, nerdy boy the hero in a teen superhero movie; both are making their primary audience the center of the story.

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  16. Could it be that the supernatural force in question is a thinly disguised reference to STD's? It could be interpreted as "Just Say No To Sex."

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  17. I was under the impression that the STD inspiration was explicit on the part of the filmmakers, but now on doing some googling I see the director tries to avoid explaining the subtext.

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  18. Reading this review of It Follows, it doesn't sound quite so everyone-out-for-themselves. But I didn't read a full plot summary, since I meet actually watch it at some point.

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  19. Passing on a disease to someone else doesn't free you from it. Diseases spread by reproducing. This is more like a deadly game of playing "tag, you're it".

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  20. With all your comments on movie, I wonder whether you have ever seen ZARDOZ? I'd like to hear your review of it!

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  21. Re: coming together to fight the monster, one of the distinctions between monster movies vs horror movies is that monster movies are much more focused on this aspect, and less on the terrifying and humanity eroding effects of encountering the monstrous, and how that causes the "real" character of people to come to the surface.

    This might link to why monster movies (It Came From Outer Space!, King Kong) are iconic of the egalitarian Mid-Century while horror in the striving post-Mid Century era may gradually exaggerate the characteristics that set it apart from a mere monster movie. Horror in an outgoing era may reflect a bit more interpersonal warmth still though - it focuses on how the real character comes to the surface, but at least that's good within your narrow circle.

    (The only good monster movie like stuff you get in the 90s was the iconic, yet 90s snarky Buffy the Vampire Slayer - no coincidence the 2011 reboot of cool 80s monster movie homage Fright Night shared a writer).

    Re: It Follows specifically, I've never really been into "dumb teens" horror - I like some John Carpenter or Steven King adaptations or George Romero or the Omen or the Exorcist or Giallo stuff, but they're not really about some dumb teens coming together to fight a threat. (American teens seem innately hard to give a fuck about.)

    I think it's right on the button to distinguish this from Scream. Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer resonate with from the paranoid TrustNo1 '90s young late Gen X, where the naturally annoying and unsympathetic qualities of White American teens and the hostile paranoia of the audience allowed the writers and directors to really go wild with pitting its cast against one another.

    It Follows seems more like it fits with the optimistic and unthreatening yet brittle nature of the late Millennials in particular - they're not really in for suspicion of underlying motives so much and they police speech to one another rather than speaking to one another caustically, yet they're risk avoiding, striving and not so able to see themselves working together, self sacrificing and not caving in the face of evil.

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  22. The Vermifuge3/14/15, 9:57 AM

    "(American teens seem innately hard to give a fuck about.)"

    In terms of how horror films have changed, this statement could be further explored in many directions.

    With time, I think, the casts have necessarily become less likeable, because the slasher requires a body count. The advent of the never-dying terror, too, has shifted the audience's expectations. For example, in the first Friday the 13th, it's disheartening to watch the spry, tanned brunette fail to even make it to Camp Crystal Lake, and I'm not cheering for Kevin Bacon to get a knife turned in his neck. In the later installments, however, it's easier to become a fan of Jason's myriad ways of killing rather than the attempts to destroy him.

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  23. "American teens seem innately hard to give a fuck about."

    Not chav enuff, innit.

    "With time, I think, the casts have necessarily become less likeable, because the slasher requires a body count."

    Other way around -- as the audience has changed to not want to connect with likable characters (too socially awkward in a cocooning period), it has become easier to kill off a bunch of them, and for the focus to shift to the body count per se.

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  24. No, I haven't seen Zardoz yet.

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  25. "For example, in the first Friday the 13th, it's disheartening to watch the spry, tanned brunette fail to even make it to Camp Crystal Lake,"

    Yeah, she might be the most instantly likeable person in the movie and the movie defies your expectations by pulling a Psycho and taking out the would-be heroine.

    The critics and snarkers since the mid 80's jumped on the "it's dumb people being butchered" thing. But in the 1st Friday the 13th, the cast is quite unpretentious and personable. The director said he cast the movie like he was casting a coke commercial. A non-callous viewer who can set their cynicism aside wouldn't want the cast of an early slasher hit terrorized.

    The lamest character in Friday the 13th is actually a middle aged square cop who wasn't even in the 1st script. One of the producers hired a guy to put more "comedy" in the movie which the director and original writer hated but had to go along with.

    I've seen interviews with actors who played the victims in early slasher movies and many of them are still likeable. Too bad Kevin Bacon went full "serious actor" and avoids talking about Friday as much as possible. Granted, when it's brought up he doesn't act like a total dick but he does seem embarrassed and he once said he did the role out of desperation. Keep in mind that at the time the movie was made in 1979, it was an independent B movie and no distribution deal was in place. He (and everyone else) didn't think much of it at the time. If it hadn't been for the last jump scare at the end, it's possible it would never have been picked up by a major.

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  26. "Halloween 2 has gained substance over the years with its small town under siege aftermath and likeable hospital workers." "late 80s horror had some gems and the F/X craft was at its height. Some horror films from 87: The Lost Boys, The Hidden, The Monster Squad, Nightmare on Elm Street 3, Prince of Darkness, Stage Fright, Dolls and Angel Heart."

    For anyone who cares, my 2 cents about some of these:

    Halloween 2: Slower than the 1st with much less suspense, unnecessary explanation for Micheal Meyers. Technically well made, though (Dean Cundey did the photography). Does try to pick up where the 1st left off albeit with some continuity errors. Meyers still has a wiry grace at least, unlike the other sequels.

    The Hidden: underrated, with better than usual acting for the material and also has great action scenes with some well played humor.

    The Monster Squad: A "you had to be there" type of movie. The kid cast will get on the nerves of non nostalgic older viewers. Good monsters, but they had to pull their punches. The monsters were still menacing enough to alienate kids/parents so the movie bombed.

    Stage Fright: stylish Italian slasher. Slightly older cast than normal. I do find it difficult to get into dubbed movies and I find it harder to judge acting that's subtitled or dubbed. Has some good atmosphere and memorable shots. The owl masked killer seems a bit silly at first but it ends up working.

    The Lost Boys: fun when I was younger. Knowing that homo Joel Schumacher directed it causes a serious ick factor when a movie like this has 2 teen boy protagonists, though the other actors are at least somewhat older.

    Prince of Darkness: Carpenter, alas, wasn't immune to the high concept craze that was accelerating in the late 80's. The bombastic backstory (about the Catholic Church hiding a tank of goop that is the work of, not Satan, but an "Anti-God", beneath an abandoned church) never really coheres. When a team of experts tries to study the goop (Carpenter was really into quantum physics at the time), all hell breaks loose. But it break loose oh so gradually. We don't get much insight to the characters and the movie becomes opaque and rather pretentious.

    Carpenter's own career neatly coincides with the trend towards favoring gimmicky pretension instead of more modest stories. His 1976-1984 work has some great movies (Assault on Precinct 13, Halloween, Escape From New York, and the Thing) with even the lesser ones (The Fog, Christine) being worth watching. Still haven't seen Star Man or his TV movie about Elvis (starring Kurt Russel and I've heard it's well made).

    Never felt much of an urge to watch Dolls (never heard much about it) or Angel Heart (sounds too bleak and turgid).

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  27. In the Mouth of Madness is another good one by Carpenter. Came out pretty late, in '95, and is distinguished from the '80s period by postmodern ambiguity. It's not super self-referential, though, and is more like Wes Craven's New Nightmare than Scream.

    Classic scene where that guy from Jurassic Park finds himself on the set of the "Shock the Monkey" video.

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  28. "Halloween 2: Slower than the 1st with much less suspense, unnecessary explanation for Micheal Meyers. Technically well made, though (Dean Cundey did the photography). Does try to pick up where the 1st left off albeit with some continuity errors. Meyers still has a wiry grace at least, unlike the other sequels."

    I think this is apt appraisal. It should be stressed that the opening 20-25 minutes from Cundey contain some of his best work. Elegant camera movements through suburban side streets full of dread and death. People only remember this for its creepy hospital setting and yet it is the first third's small town chaos that elevates it for me.

    "Never felt much of an urge to watch Dolls (never heard much about it) or Angel Heart (sounds too bleak and turgid)."

    Dolls is silly and knows it. Stuart Gordon keeps all the humor very sly. A bit like an 80s slasher merging with Gothic Hammer. Haven't seen Angel Heart since I was a teen and I suspect I would enjoy it much less if I did see it now. Very bleak. Rourke and De Niro give great performances.

    "In the Mouth of Madness is another good one by Carpenter."

    Creepy fun. Too bad it bombed. Carpenter followed it up with a remake (Village of the Damned) and a sequel/remake (Escape From L.A.).

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  29. "I don't think I'll be seeing it..."

    That should have been the end of this piece.

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  30. "People only remember this for its creepy hospital setting and yet it is the first third's small town chaos that elevates it for me."

    Something lost on way too many filmmakers (esp. horror creators) is the importance of establishing a setting. I think this can be put down at least partially to inexperienced filmmakers working on very tight budgets. Yet that didn't stop Carpenter from making Haddonfield seem like a real, functioning place (even in the 2nd one which he wrote).

    Sean Cunningham, though he rarely gets credit for anything, also did this in Friday the 13th. After the X amount of years before intro, he flashes ahead to 1979 New Jersey and Cunningham skillfully uses the bucolic locations to create a sense of peace and innocence. We first see a beautiful shot of a timeless Northeastern mainstreet with several charms: a stream, green foliage, a lawn, and Pre WW2 architecture. A moment later we meet the orange plaid wearing, wily haired young girl who immediately has our sympathy and seems like our protagonist. She walks into a diner looking for a ride (she's been hitchhiking) and the authentic townsfolk are believably on guard towards a sweet but naive teen girl helping open up the cursed camp.

    A truck driver agrees to help her out, but in the process warns her about the camp's history. She amiably shrugs off the warning from the man who is surly enough that we remain on her side. She gets dropped off and then is picked up by, we learn soon enough, the killer. Her sense and our sense of security is now gone and the suspense builds. She jumps out and is chased (through the forest). Eventually she's pinned down and killed and we feel sorrow, not just for her but for the fact that a place that should be serene has been violated.

    The movies then essentially refreshes by cutting to a trio of boisterous kids in a red pickup driving alongside a corn field. Again, we see engagingly winsome people in a wholesome environment. After this we don't see any deaths for a while, but we do get a couple shots of the killer lurking, and ominously symoblic manifestations of nature (and perhaps, the killer's intent): a snake in a cabin and a thunderstorm.

    So many modern horror filmmakers totally fail to create this sort of mood by making so many things (the characters, the music, the dialogue, the acting, the editing etc.) overdone and contrived. We don't believe in the movie, it doesn't resonate. So when bad things happen it falls flat.

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  31. I'm sorry, but how do you begin a discussion of a movie with "I don't think I'll be seeing it, [but here's all the things it gets wrong]."

    I certainly haven't drunk the cool-aid with regard to this movie. Though I did enjoy it, I don't think it was the best horror movie of the last ten years. But how on Earth do you think that you can effectively discuss a movie based on reading the Wikipedia summary?

    In point of fact, one of the movie's chief strengths is that the characters wrestle with the very issues you are criticizing. That is precisely the point! If you had, you know, actually seen the movie, you might know that. But who can be bothered.

    Seriously. SMFH.

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  32. I finally watched the film, and it's not about "trusting no one" or "duping" people. Only the initial guy (who was using a fake name & address to avoid being traced back, and is thus essentially a "stranger", and thinks it should be even easier for a girl like Jay to pass it along to a stranger just as he got it from one) tricks someone who doesn't know what they're getting into. The protagonist (Jay) has a circle of friends who want to help her out through this, and she is reluctant to pass it on to others because she doesn't want anything bad to happen to them. When she changes her mind, it's because she thinks the person (who had already heard the whole story and agreed to take the risk) would be able to handle it.

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