So, the other night I went over to my brother’s place for our first movie night. After having a flick through Amazon Prime and Netflix, we made a bit of a wish list of horror movies that we thought looked good. We happened across a film with a 97% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. “That’s pretty impressive”, we both thought. “They don’t just hand out 97% ratings”. Having now watched the film and reading through some other reviews of people who claim to be professionals, I’m wondering what they were all on when they wrote those reviews because this film is fucking shit. Bugger, I’ve let the cat out the bag a little bit earlier than I intended to and indeed in the title of this review.
You know, I had originally intended for this site to be some kind internet-powered bile dispenser but when I look back on the articles and reviews that I’ve written, I’ve spent most of the time propping up the films and TV shows that I like. I think it would be a good idea to verbally bash a film that everyone thinks is great but I think is complete nonsense. With that in mind, let’s do some plot.
The film begins with a young girl freaking out for some reason where she takes a car and leaves for the beach. When she gets there, she leaves a goodbye message for her parents before a nice shot of her horrifically mutilated body the next morning. So who is this girl? How does she serve the plot? What is her character’s significance? The answer from the film is… who cares? She’s never shown or mentioned again. Good job guys. That girl looked far too ‘everyday’ and ‘generic’, we need a thinner and better looking protagonist, says the film.
Enter, Jaime (Maika Monroe) or ‘Jay’ and I swear there are several different versions of her name. I could have sworn that she was addressed as ‘Shaye’ and I know I heard ‘Jade’ at one point.
Anyway, she’s got a hunky boyfriend, Hugh (Jake Weary) who she sexes in his car despite his weird behaviour. After they’ve done the nasty, he renders her unconscious with a chloroform rag. Jay wakes up strapped to a wheelchair and Hugh explains the rules of the next hour and a half. There’s this thing that comes after people and it can take numerous forms of other people. If it touches you, it kills you and it can only be passed on through sex. But it only walks very slowly because it looks great on camera… I mean it’s a convenient reason for Jay to always escape… I mean because of reasons. Also, only people infected with this thing can see the people coming after them and if it kills her, the thing will come after the person who gave it to her.
Immediately, this film throws up a lot of questions. The most important from my point of view being, who the fuck are the people she’s hanging out with all the way through the movie? Initially, I thought it was a large family but I was wrong. Jay has a sister, Kelly (Lili Sepe); a dude friend, Paul (Keir Gilchrist) and another chick friend in glasses, Yara (Olivia Luccardi). I think she was given the most unusual name because she’s the most interesting character.
Another question and what I thought was going to be a grand revelation is the time period in which this film takes place. Aside from the opening girl using a mobile phone and a bizarre accessory used by Yara, none of the characters use anything made after the 80’s. All the cars are retro looking, the cinema at the start has an organ player in it and also the style of clothing feels very 80’s. The bizarre accessory used by Yara is something like a shell-shaped make-up compact crossed with a kindle. I’m not even joking and this accessory only fuelled my theory that she’s a time-traveller but that could just have been me trying to make up a movie that was more interesting than the one I was watching.
There’s also another character that assists throughout the film for no reason. It’s that old movie trope, the hunky neighbour (Daniel Zovatto). To me, the movie was never more entertaining than when my brother and I were trying to figure out his name. We went through them all; Blake, Craig, Dan, Derek but it turns out his name was Greg. So we were close.
That’s another thing. This film shouldn’t be funny but looked at in the right way, it’s fucking hilarious. There’s one scene in particular where Jay and her entourage are leaving in a car and just as the car is pulling away, the camera pans up to show a naked man standing on the roof of her house and staring at Jay. This was pant-wetting but not for the reasons they had intended. I couldn’t take the film seriously after thinking that he looked like an escaped mental patient who believed he was waiting for the next bus.
Since we don’t know what the ‘thing’ is bar that brief explanation from Hugh (which isn’t his real name), the film also forgets it’s own rules. Since the ‘thing’ can only be passed on through sex, Jay sexes Greg but for days, he doesn’t see anything. It’s possible he could be lying to protect her but why do that? Wouldn’t it be comforting for her to know that the shag was worth it and the ‘thing’ isn’t coming for her any longer. But Greg dies anyway by being mounted by his mother. Symbolism, am I right?
This leads me to the massive question mark that is the film’s ending. The four friends decide that it’s time to deal with this ‘thing’ and since Jay has a fondness for swimming, they all go to a massive in-door swimming pool. They all plug random electrical equipment into the walls and line them all up at the edge of the pool while Jay stands in the middle of the water, staring at an open door. Eventually, the thing shows up but since Jay is the only person who can see it, she’s taken aback by the person that the thing has taken on. When (I think it was her sister) asks who it is, Jay says that she’s not telling. When we see who it is, I didn’t know who the fuck it was and that only confused me. Only from reading the Wikipedia page did I see that it was meant to be her father. How was I supposed to know? There are a few shots from inside the house that show family pictures and the dad might have been featured but that was over an hour ago and I probably didn’t notice because I was too busy taking the piss.
Anyway, Jay has to point to the thing so everyone else knows where it is. Paul has a gun and starts firing at the thing but keeps missing because he can’t see it. The thing starts throwing all of the electrical equipment at Jay and everyone’s running around and freaking out. I thought you had a plan! Paul manages to land a decent shot and the thing falls in the pool. Jay tries to get out but the thing grabs her leg and Paul somehow manages to shoot the thing in the head. Jay and her entourage watch as the pool fills with what I think is blood. I thought the plan was to lure the thing in the pool and then drop all of the electrical appliances into the pool and electrocute it. If that wasn’t the case, then why bring all that shit? Except to give the thing a load of stuff to throw at Jay. Jay and Paul have sex presumably to congratulate themselves on a job well done.
The final shot of the film is Jay and Paul walking hand in hand down the street as a figure follows behind them. End of film.
Errr… What? That’s fucking stupid. What’s the point of the last hour and a half if nothing is going to get resolved?
I think maybe this is something that you need to wear a fedora and wide-framed glasses to understand. It’s so ‘hipster’ and it’s the new ‘cool’ type of horror movie that doesn’t need to be scary or have interesting and sympathetic characters or a clear sense of danger to be classed as a horror film. The one time one of the things gets close to Jay, all it wants to do is mess with her hair.
I think it would have been better if she does the sex thing and Hugh explains everything but then it takes a different turn where she becomes so paranoid and isn’t able to sleep, therefore sending herself into a downward spiral of madness and she ends up killing random people and then her friends and family because she thinks they’re the thing coming after her and she ends up in a madhouse. We the audience and the other characters only have her word that the thing is coming after her because she’s the only one who can see it. What if she’s just a total nutter and the whole thing was a figment of her mad mind? Wouldn’t that have been a better twist than having it all based in reality and she’s not mad at all?
I’ll say two nice things about the film. Those two nice things are that the film looks alright for $2 Million and I’m so fucking thankful that the film didn’t finish with a bullshit jump-scare because those things piss me off.
At one point, the thought crossed my mind that maybe this film was made by super Christians who want to highlight the dangers of promiscuous sex in teenagers and that the ‘thing’ was a metaphor for STD’s. But what boggles me is the notion that sex is what causes the ‘thing’ to follow you and then kill you and the only way to stop it from killing you is to pass it on to someone else through sex. So the only way to stop it, is to spread it. That makes sense.
What also boggles me is the critics reaction to this film. I understand young hipsters falling in love with it but people who are paid to be objective? This is unacceptable. What’s also unacceptable is attaching such labels to this film as “a classical horror masterpiece” and “the best horror film in years”. I would like to attach something much more appropriate like “biggest waste of time ever” and “Boring sack of bollocks!”.