BY LIONEL FRANKENSTEIN
Horror nerds that we are, Fun Size Horror would love to share with you some of our favorite genre films, but with a twist: instead of just listing off some favorites, each week we'll offer up a pairing of two horror films that complement one another in unique or fascinating ways: Double Feature Friday.
Today, we look at two horrifying, subtext-drenched slabs of visually stunning cinema: Brian De Palma's Carrie and David Robert Mitchell's It Follows. Both films use metaphor, subtext, and gorgeously-composed visual storytelling to present the lives of two young women struggling to establish their identity while discovering the power brought on by their burgeoning womanhood, and the dangers that power attracts.
CARRIE (1976/ 98 minutes/ dir. Brian De Palma)
On it's surface, De Palma's adaptation of Stephen King's first novel is relatively simple: high school outcast Carrie White has her first period while in P.E. and, misunderstanding, fears she's bleeding to death. Her deranged, religion-obsessed mother punishes her for her "curse of blood" and developing adult femininity, while her classmates scorn her in a deeper, even more traumatic way: later voting her as prom queen, and then dumping pig's blood on her in an act of total humiliation in front of her peers at the dance. Oh, by the way: Carrie also developed a powerful telekinesis with her delayed puberty and, in her wrath, kills a lot of people.
Beneath its horror movie surface, Carrie is dark, troubling look at a teenager struggling to find her identity as a young woman amidst the roiling dangers and horrors of adolescence. Carrie is constantly stifled by a mother who believes powerful femininity a sin and classmates who come to view her as a freak. And, in the end, the very thing that makes Carrie unique--her power which magnified at the dawn of her womanhood--is the thing that isolates her from her peers and drives her mother to try to kill her. Viewed through this prism, it's hard to see Carrie as anything other than a bleak commentary on a society that fearfully resents and punishes female power.
IT FOLLOWS (2014/ 100 minutes/ dir. David Robert Mitchell)
A simple conceit: a creature ("It") that only you can see follows you and kills you. If you have sex with someone else, It follows them instead. If It kills that person, it begins to follow you again until it kills you, unless you continue to pass It on. It Follows begins when quiet teenager Jay's already troubled homelife is thrown into disarray as It is passed to her and begins to follow.
Like Carrie, It Follows traffics in ideas concerning a young woman discovering the power of her sexual identity. While some have reductively deemed It Follows an "STD movie," the film's motives seem far deeper than that. As Jay discovers, her sexuality is a kind of power that she can wield (passing It on to whomever sleeps with her; and out of the woodwork come a number of "white knight" male friends willing to sleep with her in order to "save" her), but, in a society fraught with sexual violence and misogyny, embracing her sexuality in a world in which It exists means also risking harm, or even death, to herself (indeed, It is passed to Jay in manner reminiscent of date rape). As with Carrie, It Follows is a harrowing, horrifying tale of a young woman coming to terms with her sexual identity in a world populated with monsters bent on punishing her for that identity.