Wednesday, 2 March 2016

IT FOLLOWS - HORROR - SCRIPT & FILM

LOGLINE: A young lady is infected with a sexually transmitted curse that leaves the victim 'followed' by a demon intent on killing them. 

WRITER/DIRECTOR: DAVID ROBERT MITCHELL

SCRIPT/FILM BIO: Simply the best horror film made in recent years.

STORY:

JAY is your regular 19 year old girl still living at home with her mom and sister. She's interested in boys, mulling over quaint existential problems, and considering studying far, far away.

The evening we meet her, she has a date with a strapping young man called HUGH. Long story short... they have 'the sex' - then afterwards Hugh knocks Jay out with chloroform.

As you do.

Jay wakes in an abandoned building, tied to a chair. 

This is were It Follows proves it's a cut above the mediocre rest.

In any regular horror film - Hugh would be an evil guy, hell bent on doing some awful things to Jay - but no - he explains what's happening...

You see, Hugh has infected Jay with a sexually transmitted curse. He explains that 'IT' will follow you to the end of the earth until 'IT' gets you. 

IT is a demon that can take any human form. Often resembling family or friends so it can get close to you.

All IT has to do is touch you and you will die. 

That all sounds kinda loopy - UNTIL - Hugh shows Jay an older naked woman slowly walking toward them. 

IT is very slow - but it's not stupid. Hugh explains. 

Jay is still freaked the fuck out by all this - and of course it doesn't make sense....
... until it does. Until Jay realises that Hugh was not lying. 

IT really exists, and it's coming for her!

I'll leave the story there. This is such a solid film - I don't want to give anything more away. 

INITIAL REACTION:

This is an interesting one. 

This will be a deconstruction of both the film and the script.

The film was exceptional. The main reason it worked so well, is its subtly. The concept is genius as well. But the idea in the hands of a lesser director would have left us with a tropey cliche horror film. 

Instead we are gifted a horror film that genuinely chills. 

The lighting in the film is exceptional as well. It Follows is so well lit, it looks like they only used practical lights - (lights that are already in the location). Soooooo often horror films are filmed on brightly 'LIT' sets. That takes all the reality out of it. When you're AWARE you're watching a film - it detracts from the illusion. 

The acting is subtle. The dialogue is simple - every day stuff - which again, only adds to the sense of reality in this film. Very often you have over-written dialogue scenes in films that would never occur in real life that detract from the sense of reality which in turns ruins the illusion. 

Now - as far as the script goes - this is a slightly different story... let's get into the break down...

CONCEPT:

One of the best concepts I've heard in years. 

"Sexually transmitted curse."

You know you have a killer idea when you can sum it up succinctly in three words. 

That idea explodes off the page - you can immediately imagine a dozen different executions of that concept - all being awesome.

CONCEPT RATING: 10/10

CONCEPT TIP: Simple ideas often make for great films. Convoluted concepts don't work. If you find yourself struggling to distill your core idea into less than 10 words - odds are your idea is too complex for a film. 

FORM:

This script was densely written. BUT, when you're writing to direct yourself - the rules change. 

It's okay to write too much as you're essentially making notes for yourself as you go. You do need to make sure the script is readable by third parties - but you have more leeway than if you were writing a regular spec.

The writing here, while dense, is textured, layered, and cleanly written. 

FORM RATING: 8/10

FORM TIP: As I was reading this script I imagined the extremely parred down version - and I don't think it would have worked. The over-writing here actually helped to create the world, to make it feel real, lived in etc. So to that end - over-writing can work in the right circumstance. I wouldn't advise over-writing - but it's important to find that balance between parred back, lean writing and writing that has layers and texture. 

STRUCTURE:

Structure was good and bad here. The one problem with It Follows is that it has an open ended goal. The Demon is going to continually keep coming after you - NO MATTER WHAT.

Now that works incredibly well for the form of horror. It becomes a truly insidious form for terror. No matter where you go, or what you do, one day, IT will be there. 

But what that does is it means there's no closed ended 'goal' to achieve. Which means Jay is constantly running from the problem - rather than trying to proactively attack the problem. 

There's only so long we can watch or read about someone running from something. They eventually need to take a stand and attack it. 

I won't get into too much more detail about structure so I don't spoil the story. 

Suffice to say - despite the open ended goal - this film still works really well.

CHARACTERS & DIALOGUE:

One of the main reasons this film and script work sooooo damn well is because of how understated the dialogue and characters are. 

As I mentioned in my initial reaction - the more grounded in reality your characters and dialogue the more real your film will feel. When you're writing/directing horror the more real you can make it feel - the more terrifying it will be. 

CHARACTERS & DIALOGUE RATING: 9/10

CHARACTERS & DIALOGUE TIP: When writing your characters and their dialogue - go for subtle but unique. Keep the dialogue simple, clean and clear, but don't use that as an excuse to write DULL dialogue. Likewise with your characters - keep them grounded in reality - but don't let that be an excuse to not develop their unique personalities. 

VOICE:

Voice is WHY this film is successful. David has such a unique storytelling voice you can't help but watch. His writing is not as good as his directing - but it's still very intelligent. 

VOICE RATING: FILM 10/10 SCRIPT 7/10

VOICE TIP: A lot of film makers are doing it for the cheap buck. Be the writer/director that stands out by thinking through every aspect of your story and making INTELLIGENT decisions. How many times have you watched a film and thought 'Come on, that's weak writing' - don't be that person. 

If you're serious about your work and are trying your best to make intelligent decisions, it will come through in your voice. 

PRODUCTION:

Killed it on the festival circuit. 
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3235888/awards

Made $14mill at the box office. with a production budget of $2m. 

SUMMARY:

Great script that became an even better horror film.

OVER ALL RATING: SCRIPT 7/10 - FILM 9/10