10 Fascinating Facts About It Follows

RADiUS/TWC
RADiUS/TWC

After capturing the coming-of-age genre with cringe-worthy accuracy in 2010's The Myth of the American Sleepover, writer/director David Robert Mitchell turned his low-budget sights on a horror film that would go on to make all of us fear sex, lakes, and literally every person walking toward us.

It Follows was a terrifying tone poem that spoke to youthful sexuality by focusing on a young woman named Jay Height (played by Maika Monroe) who contracts a deliberately-paced supernatural murder monster that relentlessly targets you until 1) you’re dead or 2) you’ve passed the curse along by having sex with someone. In more good news, if the person you had sex with gets killed, the murder monster resumes searching for you. And it could look like anyone. Even your best friend. Or you.

Mitchell blended old favorites and originality to invent a monster worthy of haunting our every waking moment. Here are some facts about the film that will follow you wherever you go.

1. ITS TIME PERIOD DOESN’T FEEL REAL.

Maika Monroe in 'It Follows' (2014)
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David Robert Mitchell, production designer Michael Perry, and costume designer Kimberly Leitz coordinated to throw us off-balance without us even realizing it. Almost none of the young characters use cell phones, but they exist—and Yara (Olivia Luccardi) has that clamshell e-reader. The vintage cars all look brand-new, but people also have cars from the 2010s. It’s presumably modern day, but all the TVs are from the 1980s, and all the movies the kids watch are classics. Characters also wear bathing suits or heavy winter coats on the same day without appearing too hot or cold. Essentially the movie takes place during a stretch of impossible weather during an unreal era, making it impossible for you to find your footing.

2. IT’S BASED ON A DREAM.

As a child, Mitchell regularly dreamed of a malevolent being taking the form of different people to slowly menace him. “From what I understand, it’s an anxiety dream,” he said. “Whatever I was going through at that time, my parents divorced when I was around that age, so I imagine it was something to do with that.” He also notes that horror films like Night of the Living Dead (which he saw as a young man) may have informed it. He conceived the sexual component as an adult, and the concept for It Follows was born.

3. CHARACTER NAMES ALLUDE TO CLASSIC HORROR FILMS.

The first girl to be killed in the film is Annie (Bailey Spry), who shares a name with Annie Brackett (Nancy Kyes), the first girl killed in John Carpenter's Halloween. Plus, Jay’s full name is Jamie—a nod to scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis, who (just like Jay) has a sister named Kelly.

4. THE PLAN TO KILL THE MONSTER IS TERRIBLE. BUT THAT'S ON PURPOSE.

Jay and her friends plot to electrocute the monster in a pool even though they don’t know anything about what might weaken it, and they were warned directly that it’s not dumb. “It’s the stupidest plan ever!” Mitchell told Vulture. “It’s a kid-movie plan. It’s something that Scooby Doo and the gang might think of, and that was sort of the point. What would you do if you were confronted by a monster and found yourself trapped within a nightmare?”

Mitchell specifically wanted to avoid the trope of the perfect nugget of information about the monster’s vulnerabilities magically dropping into the gang’s lap.

5. THE COLOR RED FORESHADOWS THE MONSTER'S ARRIVAL.

In horror movies, the color red is regularly used to signal that blood is on the way, and It Follows sticks to that tradition with gusto. Pay attention to red clothing, red lighting, that damned red ball jump scare, red cars, red nails, and other red objects to let you know that danger is getting closer.

6. BODIES OF WATER ARE ALSO MADE TO FEEL DANGEROUS.

The old gag about describing horror movies is that they do for X (balloons, dogs, taco stands) what Jaws did for going in the water, but It Follows does for water what Jaws did for going in the water. Jay is safe at the beginning of the movie in her backyard pool, but all the other, larger bodies of water only promise death (and the kids keep running to them). Annie gets killed at the lake; the monster almost kills Jay during their lakeside retreat and in the giant community swimming pool; and Jay experiences an existential crisis when she considers having sex with three men in a boat to pass the curse onto them.

7. ONE OF THE MONSTERS IS JAY AND KELLY’S FATHER.

Maika Monroe, Lili Sepe, and Daniel Zovatto in 'It Follows' (2014)
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The monster takes on the form of a middle-aged man when Jay and Kelly try to kill it at the pool. In an incredibly subtle moment, Jay refuses to tell Kelly (Lili Sepe) what the monster has taken the form of, but if you rewatch the movie, you’ll see that the middle-aged man is their father, who is featured in several family photographs in the house but completely absent from their lives. Some viewers theorize he killed himself, and others see his throwing appliances at her in the pool as a nod toward possible abuse, but Jay is definitely protecting her sister.

8. JAY AND KELLY’S MOM IS PROBABLY AN ALCOHOLIC.

Adults are of zero help throughout the movie, particularly the girls’ mother (Debbie Williams), who appears obscured in almost every shot she’s in but quite clearly drinks in all her scenes. That includes booze in her morning coffee, day drinking, glasses of wine, and remarks from her children that she won’t care about what’s going on. It’s another nuanced, open-ended element that elevates the film—without spelling it out, we know that something terrible has happened to this family long before the sex monster showed up.

9. QUENTIN TARANTINO WOULD HAVE HAD SEX WITH PAUL.

The Kill Bill director loved It Follows but had issues with how it played fast and loose with the mythology. He also, ersh, couldn’t understand why Jay wouldn’t have sex with Paul (Keir Gilchrist) when he offered. “It’s not like she’d have been tricking him into it,” Tarantino said. “It’s what I would have done."

10. IT’S GOT A SURPRISINGLY LOW BODY COUNT.

Bailey Spry in 'It Follows' (2014)
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In the course of It Follows's 100-minute running time, only two people die—including a young woman whose leg is bent back into places it shouldn’t bend—so the movie clearly focused on intensity over quantity. There’s a third death if you consider the monster bleeding rivers into the community pool, but, let’s be real, there’s no way it’s gone for good. Now where’s our sequel?

HBO Is Offering Nearly 500 Hours of Free Content, From The Sopranos to Succession

Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun talk business and omelettes in Succession.
Matthew Macfadyen and Nicholas Braun talk business and omelettes in Succession.
Peter Kramer/HBO

If shelter-in-place orders have you burning through your streaming service selections, HBO might be able to help. The premium network has just announced nearly 500 hours of content will be made available for free beginning Friday, April 3. In a press release, the channel said that content would be unlocked via HBO NOW and HBO GO without a subscription. Viewers can expect a mix of HBO’s original series as well as documentaries and catalog movie titles. For original series, viewers can select these nine shows:

  1. Ballers
  2. Barry
  3. Silicon Valley
  4. Six Feet Under
  5. The Sopranos
  6. Succession
  7. True Blood
  8. Veep
  9. The Wire

Documentary and Docuseries titles include:

  1. The Apollo
  2. The Case Against Adnan Syed
  3. Elvis Presley: The Searcher
  4. I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth v. Michelle Carter
  5. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley
  6. Jane Fonda in Five Acts
  7. McMillion$
  8. True Justice: Bryan Stevenson’s Fight for Equality
  9. United Skates
  10. We Are the Dream: The Kids of the MLK Oakland Oratorical Fest

Movies are from the Warner Bros. library and, unlike The Sopranos, are mostly family-friendly. They include:

  1. Arthur
  2. Arthur 2: On the Rocks
  3. Blinded By the Light
  4. The Bridges of Madison County
  5. Crazy, Stupid, Love
  6. Empire of the Sun
  7. Forget Paris
  8. Happy Feet Two
  9. Isn't It Romantic?
  10. The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part
  11. Midnight Special
  12. My Dog Skip
  13. Nancy Drew And The Hidden Staircase
  14. Pan
  15. Pokémon Detective Pikachu
  16. Red Riding Hood
  17. Smallfoot
  18. Storks
  19. Sucker Punch
  20. Unknown Title To Be Announced

The shows can be viewed directly without a sign-in on the HBO GO and HBO NOW websites or via their apps. (The services are nearly identical, but HBO GO is typically included with a cable subscription; HBO NOW is a standalone streaming service.) If you’d like to sample the full range of HBO series like Game of Thrones, The Outsider, or Curb Your Enthusiasm, the channel is offering a seven-day free trial.

According to the press release, the programming will be available to watch without subscribing through the end of April.

Which Fictional Character Are You? This Online Quiz Might Give You an Eerily Accurate Answer

Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister is the unofficial king of witty side comments. Are you, too?
Peter Dinklage's Tyrion Lannister is the unofficial king of witty side comments. Are you, too?
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

While watching a TV show or movie, you might find yourself trying to draw parallels between you and a certain character you’d want to be. If you’re like many viewers, it’s probably one of the heroic ones—the handsome private investigator with a tortured past and an unerring moral compass or the fearless queen who builds her kingdom from nothing and defends it to the death, etc.

But which character would you actually be? Openpsychometrics.org, a site that develops personality tests, has a new online quiz that might give you an uncannily accurate answer. You’ll be confronted with a series of 28 questions that ask you to pinpoint where you fall between two traits on a percentage-based spectrum. For example, if you’re more playful than serious, slide the bar toward the word playful until you’ve reached your desired ratio. The ratio could be anything from 51 percent playful and 49 percent serious, to a full 100 percent playful and not a single iota of seriousness at all. Other spectrums include artistic versus scientific, dominant versus submissive, spiritual versus skeptical, and more.

Once you’ve completed the quiz, you’ll find out which fictional character your personality most closely matches from a database of around 500 television and film characters. To pinpoint the personalities of the characters themselves, the quiz creators asked survey participants to rate them on a series of traits, and those collective results are then compared to your own self-ratings.

If you scroll down below your top result, you’ll see an option to show your full match list, which will give you a much more comprehensive picture of what kind of character you’d be. My top two results—which, ironically, were the same as Mental Floss editor-in-chief Erin McCarthy’s—were The West Wing’s C.J. Cregg and Joey Lucas, suggesting that we both have a no-nonsense attitude, a perfectionist streak, and an apparent aptitude for national politics that (at least in our cases) will likely go unfulfilled.

The fictional twin of managing editor Jenn Wood, on the other hand, is Game of Thrones’s Tyrion Lannister, unofficial king of witty side comments and all-around fan favorite. This was not surprising. As runner-up, Jenn got her personal hero, Elizabeth Bennet, which, in her words “makes me feel better about myself.” (Jenn has Pride and Prejudice-themed “writing gloves,” which seems important to mention.)

Take the quiz here to find out just how much you have in common with your own personal (fictional) hero.

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