Community college student Jay (Maika Monroe) goes out on a date with Hugh, who freaks out at the movie theater because there’s a woman in a yellow dress whom only he can see. After the semi-botched date, they have sex, but afterwards, shit gets weird, and Hugh reveals that he has probably the worst STI (in terms of sex in the ’10s): the person to whom the haunting is passed will see a figure, who may take the shape of a loved one or an acquaintance, but no one else can see them, and the figure advances at walking speed; if it catches you, it will kill you and come after the next person in line.
Somehow “use protection” doesn’t cover this one.
The cast is mostly women, though everyone is white, and the Bechdel test is well and truly passed. The teenagers are frank about sex and have sexual agency. What’s really scary about the film is the relentlessness of the creature (“it”) — it follows you, wherever you go. There is no permanent escape except through sex–even if you “pass it on,” it’s not a guarantee–and the cinematography has you searching for the figure approaching from a distance.
The setting of suburban Detroit (where the movie was actually filmed!) is as much a character in the film as London is to Sherlock Holmes, and the characters’ commentary on their parents’ unease with certain parts of town is a wonderful touch. (I wasn’t sure at first if the film were set in the 1990s until I saw one of the characters had a contemporary cell phone.)
Despite requiring my partners be tested for ghosts as well as STIs, this movie scared the crap out of me. What if that guy on the walk home from the theatre was a ghost coming for me? WHAT IF NO ONE CAN SEE THESE PEDESTRIANS BEHIND ME?!
Rated R. Contains gore, zombie-like shapeshifting ghosts, sexually transmitted hauntings, kidnapping, poltergeists (?), haunted swimming pools (seriously what is it with swimming pools), rape, sex, alcoholism, clueless parents. I should note that, while Hugh chloroforms Jay to see the ghost, that the sex that occurs prior to that is consensual. Despite being a film about passing a haunting via sex, the single rape scene is committed by the ghost/creature and is brief; the teens involved are all otherwise having consensual sex, even if it’s motivated by ghosts.
Don’t look behind you. Or do?