It Follows Ending Explained

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A chill in the air, shorter days, red leaves crunching underfoot, and an increasing sense of paranoia as you walk through your local neighborhood? It must be Halloween. 'Tis the season to be frightened, which is why we're going to talk about one of the vastly underrated horror movies of all time, It Follows.

It Follows Ending Explained
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Warning: There are many spoilers ahead for It Follows.

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The 2014 film is directed by David Robert Mitchell and follows Jay (Maika Monroe), an ordinary teenage girl who loses her innocence to a young man named Hugh in the back of a car against a moonlit sky, a scenario that is perhaps more often associated with the slasher genre than it is with adolescent romance. And rightly so, because what happens next is no fairy tale. Jay is tied to a wheelchair in a deserted multi-storey car park so that Hugh can show her she's suddenly being followed by a human figure - something he has "passed onto her". A demonic entity that can take on the form of a stranger, or someone you know, and slowly make its way towards you at an average walking pace, reminiscent of Halloween's Michael Myers, albeit with far more patience.

The only way to get rid of it? Pass it on the same way she was given it - through intercourse. But even if Jay is successful, should 'it' catch up with the next person and kill them, the curse will revert back to Jay. In fact, even now that it's stalking Jay, it still isn't quite done with Hugh, as he is still able to see it. Once Jay comes to realize that her innocence is over and that the world is a dark and dangerous place, she must find a way of outrunning 'it'. With the help of her close friends, Paul, Kelly, and Yara, she decides to track down Hugh in the hope of understanding more about the threat she faces. Ultimately, she learns very little, other than 'it' isn't particularly clever or cunning, and that she can buy herself some time by sleeping with someone else.

But it doesn't take long before her friends believe what she's saying - 'it' is actually a physical entity, though completely invisible to those it has no interest in (but able to do harm to them all the same). After deciding her options are limited, and that it's only a matter of time before the demon catches up with her, Jay decides to try and pass the curse on. Whether or not she goes through with her attempts remains ambiguous (we see her swimming towards a group of men aboard a boat and nothing more), but 'it' is still following her. One of Jay's friends, Greg, the neighborhood player, offers to indulge Jay, and so they sleep together. Despite the fact he goes days without seeing anything, eventually 'it' catches up with him, brutally slaying him in front of Jay.

It Follows Ending Explained
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Realizing they have no choice but to face the demon, Jay and her friends head to a swimming pool out of town, where they intend to lure 'it' into a trap, with several electrical devices surrounding the pool, in the middle of which Jay waits. The demon appears and begins to throw the devices at Jay, but the teens finally kill it by shooting it in the head. Jay watches as the pool turns red with its blood - which of course only she can see. That same night, Jay sleeps with Paul, whom she realizes has always liked her. Shortly afterward, we see Paul driving near two prostitutes, as it seems he now intends to pass 'it' on. The very last scene shows Jay and Paul walking through their neighborhood, hand in hand. Behind them, we see someone walking in their direction, though it's unclear whether they're human or demon.

Let it go on record that It Follows is not an allegory for sexually transmitted diseases - not that there's any harm in thinking of the entity as a 'sexually transmitted demon', which fits in perfectly with the well-known acronym. The truth is there are many themes at play here - the end of innocence, the social divide between pristine suburbia and the poverty-stricken urban districts. But the most obvious and dominant is the idea that death is always behind us; every second of every day, with all the patience and confidence in the world, but coming for us no less. 'It follows' us everywhere we go, and will catch up with us sooner or later. And what better way to portray this than through sexual intercourse. It's something that's considered a cardinal sin in most slashers, and It Follows ingeniously literalizes that trope.

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It Follows Ending Explained
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Related: Is The Cabin in the Woods Worth Watching?

Before Jay sleeps with the man, she's a curious, wide-eyed teenager. Afterward, she becomes aware of her mortality - a metaphor for the end of innocence, and the becoming of an adult. But these themes are only there if you choose to look for them. At its surface, It Follows is a master in slasher horror, and in its simplicity is perhaps one of the greatest. There are haunting echoes of John Carpenter's Halloweenthroughout, and perhaps little slices of Wes Craven's A Nightmare On Elm Street too. Jay's hometown suburbia is almost identical to Haddonfield, Illinois, if not for the deliberately indistinguishable time setting - evident by cars that span different decades, black-and-white televisions, vintage decor, and iPhone-like reading devices.

And then there's the season - there are times in which Jay is wearing winter clothing, and others where she's enjoying the sun in her backyard pool. Placing the film in a 'generic' time setting, with no sense of what time of year it is, is clearly the director's way of instantly putting the viewer at a sense of unease, while also forcing them to focus on all the right things. Other than the two aforementioned slasher callbacks, there's no room for self-referential horror here. As for the concept itself; the idea that something as simple as remaining in one place while a demon makes its way toward you has Freddy Krueger written all over it, while the score by Disasterpiece even has riffs of that 1984 horror classic.

It's remarkable, though, that no one has cashed in on It Follows yet and churned out a bunch of sequels, but this is in no way a bad thing. Director David Robert Mitchell has since expressed an interest in directing a follow-up, which he positioned would involve finding out where 'it' came from in the first place, but perhaps the less we know, the better. When it comes to horror, sometimes sequels are unnecessary - with a film like It Follows, it will stay with you long after viewing anyway. And if you're looking for horror this Halloween that's both smart and scary, look no further than this.