first posted March 24, 2016 - estimated read time: 18 minutes and 43 seconds
It has been a long time since I’ve seen the unconventional horror film It Follows (2014), but I still find myself reflecting and thinking about how I would survive It Follows.
The following are some of my thoughts on what I would do to survive It Follows.
Setting the rules
The first thing we need to do is list everything we know about the entity and everything we’ll need to find out. The entity in It Follows seems to be bound by a specific set of rules that we can exploit to survive, but how far we can take it depends on the rules that we aren’t aware of, and therefore must discover on our own.
- TRANSMISSION: the demon is passed on via sex.
- VISIBILITY: Only the infected (past and current) are able to see the entity.
- POWERS: The entity can shapeshift at will and is able to take the form of anyone – even someone dead who it has never come into contact with. It also seems to be invincible, shrugging off direct gunshot wounds to the head. It does not sleep, it does not eat, it never gives up, and it will always follow.
- PURPOSE: Its purpose is to kill whoever is at the front of the ‘chain’, then work its way back to whoever is last in line.
- WEAKNESS’: It is slow, only ever seen walking at a slow to medium pace. It is also corporeal, meaning that although invisible, it does take up physical space and can be shot, hit with chairs, and needs to open doors or break windows to gain entrance to some buildings.
Thoughts and Exploitation: How To Survive It Follows.
IDEA ONE: Passing it on!
Once you are cursed/infected with the entity, the only known method to get it off your tail is to pass it on to someone else. This is done through sex – so it’s an STD, or, Sexually Transmitted Demon in scientific circles. Of course, a strong possibility is to kill the entity, but no way is known (the entity seems to be invincible by all accounts).
The problems with passing the STD on are numerous, and that’s if you exclude the morality in essentially dooming someone else in order to save your own cowardly skin. First of all, it’s important to note that the entity uses a ‘chain’ to determine who its target is. So if you pass the demon onto someone else, and then they die, then the demon now comes back after you.
If you were, however, to convince your sexual partner that the entity was real and that they are in danger, as well as educate them in how it is transmitted, and they were to continue to do the same and pass it on to another adding onto the chain, then hey! You just bought yourself some thinking time. Unfortunately, convincing someone you just slept with that they will now have a demon after them doesn’t sound easy at all.
But don’t worry you pessimistic and downtrodden reader, there is a shining light to passing it on. Anyone on the chain (anyone currently infected, or who has previously passed it on) will be able to see the entity. Hmm, so maybe passing it onto a stranger is a terrible idea, but someone you love and trust? Two seems the bigger army than one.
IDEA TWO: Travel!
This thing walks everywhere, and I’m pretty sure I can drive faster than 3.1 miles per hour. Sweet, this is going to be easy! Except, if I’m constantly on the move, money will be hard to come by, and paying for food/gas will become a problem. I may be able to drive far and fast, but this thing never stops, it never sleeps, it never takes a break. I can’t keep driving cross-Canada forever. It’s also a freaking shapeshifter, so who knows? It might catch up to me while I’m working at a bar for the night, or robbing a gas station for, well, gas.
Still, trying to be on the move constantly could buy quite a bit of time, maybe even entire days of peace to think and plan. Travel certainly isn’t a solution, but it’s a start!
I guess in the perfect world where money was absolutely no issue, you could charter weekly flights between Canada and Australia or something. Keep the damned thing locked in the middle of the ocean. But what if these insanely frequent flights that occur like clockwork arouse government suspicion and so they detain you for questioning. Now while they are keeping you in a cell waiting for your rich parents and their lawyer to fly out to Australia (a ~ 19-hour flight) and bail you out, an officer walks to your cell door with two inmates in tow. Sweet! you think to yourself, new cellmates to ease this boredom. Then you get the shivers. The officer seems to only be looking at one of the inmates while the other makes direct eye contact with you, slowly shuffling closer.
IDEA THREE: Safehold!
An important weakness of the entity is that although abnormally strong, it is limited via the physical world. It is seen knocking on a door to get the occupant to open it instead of breaking it down and is also seen smashing windows to gain entrance to a house. Maybe you could hide away in a closed off bunker or something.
This might work, but the largest problem is that we simply don’t know the limits of this thing’s power. Maybe it only uses force/strength when needed, as the aforementioned door it knocked on was a simple wooden door that it absolutely could have broken down if needed.
Ultimately, the largest problem with this idea would be where the hell are you going to get access to a place like this? Not to mention how are you going to get food and other resources?
IDEA FOUR: It’s A Trap!
So, locking it out seems like a poor idea, but what about locking it in? The reasons for doing so are the same as above, except less risk! Once again, the major problem would be finding a place to do so and getting it to go in. I guess a getting a nice secure thick metal vault, surrounding the vault with concrete, dropping the vault into the ocean, and then hurling the ocean into space would work though.
What if you dug a hole. Like a massively huge 20 foot deep, 20 by 20 wide hole in the ground. Line the bottom and sides with 1 foot of concrete, and then lure the thing in. It’s corporeal, so just get it close to the edge then whack it with a hockey stick until it falls in. You then pour new concrete on top of it, surrounding and trapping it in. This is why it needs to be 20 feet deep – so that the sheer amount of wet concrete being poured on top of it hinders its movements and weighs it down so it cannot escape.
All of this is still pretty unlikely to unfold, but I think this is our best shot yet! At least it’s somewhat doable. A big problem would be getting the time to set all of this up. Perhaps get a friend to set it up for you while you utilize idea #2 – travel, and hope you can last a couple of weeks.
When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.
IDEA FIVE: Information Gathering!
As was mentioned before, we simply do not have all of the information on how the entity operates or what its limitations are. I have so many great ideas on how to battle this thing, but they can all be ruined by two of its powers. 1) Shapeshifting and 2) Strength. So let’s learn more about them.
You know what? There’s one more thing we need to address. We have no idea how intelligent this thing is. If I trap it or manipulate it, will it be smart enough to know that? We need to know these things to help address not just the extent of its powers but to guess on when and how it will use them.
One of the largest problems with having the entity on you is that it is invisible, so proving its existence is neigh impossible, and if anyone did believe you (note: they won’t), they would be pretty much powerless to help. We know from It Follows that there are workarounds to this little problem when one of the characters throws a towel (sheet?) over the entity, allowing everyone to see it. I’m glad they addressed this in the movie as one of the thoughts/ideas screaming in my head during my first watch was “SPRAY PAINT ON IT!” (thanks, Kevin Bacon!).
So we know that paint would definitely work, but what we don’t know is for how long. Will the entity be smart enough to know that it is now visible? Will it stop to wash off the paint? If it instantly shapeshifts, will the paint disappear? What if it waits for the paint to dry, then shifts into a slightly smaller form, causing the paint to peel off it and fall to the ground. The only way to answer these questions is to try.
Also, what are the limitations to its shapeshifting abilities? How often can it do it? We never see it shift ‘on-screen’, so maybe it can only change form when it’s out of sight of its target. Maybe this is a freaking quantum demon. Are their size limitations? Can it shift into a child? I don’t think we ever see it as a child in the film, do we? If I were to shackle it up to a dungeon wall, could it simply shift into a baby and slip out of its bonds, or can it only shift into people with a similar mass to itself – plus or minus 60 pounds or something?
Lastly, just how strong is it? We see it fling a person pretty hard and far during the beach scene, implying it has much more strength than a human. If you were in a brick room with no entrance, could it break through the brick? I DON’T KNOW AND I’M SCARED.
STEP ONE: PROOF
Ultimately, this is not something I can survive on my own. This demon ghost will never stop or give up – it’s the Rick Astley of demons. I cannot run from it indefinitely and I’d need help to trap or lock it away.
In order to get someone to help me, I’ll first need to prove the existence of this thing. So I call up my good friends, tell them it’s an emergency, a life or death situation and that I need them to trust me. They ask “What the hell are you talking about?”, but I don’t tell them about It, I simply restate that they just need to trust me. I tell them to meet me in a nice open field with good lighting later tonight. Perhaps a soccer field or something. I’ll also bring beer; we’ll all be needing some liquid courage later.
Now we are all alone in the very middle of the soccer field with great visibility surrounding us. My friends ask me why they are there and what’s going on. I ask them if they believe in the supernatural; they laugh. I laugh too, I don’t want them to think I’m crazy. I crack open a few beers and pass them around. They ask again why they are there, but I tell them that they won’t believe me until I am able to show them proof. I tell them that we are here for proof and that all they need to know is that I am dead serious about each of them staying with me. I legitimately might not make it to tomorrow. I also tell them my ‘recovery plan’ for where to meet up after I prove my sanity. As a consolation for staying with me, I promise them I will immediately check into a mental health facility if I make it to the morning without event. They agree.
A few hours later, I see a person in the distance moving slowly at the far end of the park, walking towards us in the field. I do not know if it’s a real person or the entity so I casually ask out loud “Wonder what she’s doing up so late?”. My friends look around confused; they don’t see anyone. So I point and ask “Does no one else see her?”. Now they think I’m either doing a stupid elaborate prank or legitimately going crazy. It’s time to tell the truth.
So I tell them, very quickly and filled with dread, fear, and panic, that there is a demon after me that is invisible to all but me and can also shapeshift. I tell them that I know I sound absolutely insane, but in less than a minute I will have absolute proof. I grab the paintball gun I bought from the store earlier that day, line it up and aim at It. The entity is still pretty far away and other than the practice I did earlier that day, I’ve never shot a gun before. After three misses I finally get a direct hit, splattering paint over its right thigh. I hear a gasp from nearby. The entity is only ten meters away now, I fire three more shots, all direct hits.
All my friends see are four paint splotches floating in mid-air moving towards them. One of them throws his beer bottle at it, which hits it in the chest then promptly falls to the floor. All he saw was the bottle hit nothing and fall. My friends are now believers.
STEP TWO: PLAN
I now have friends on my side, people who believe me and will help me. We all run away shouting (most of us swearing) to the parking lot, get in our cars and screech away. We drive north for about two and a half hours to a faraway town, as was discussed in my recovery plan. We park at a Tim Hortons and go sit inside. At once they all start asking questions and freaking out at me. I assure them that they are 100% safe and that the entity is only after me – unless one of them wants to sleep with me of course. Nothing like an immature gay joke to lighten the mood amongst friends.
So I explain everything I know about It, its powers, strengths and weaknesses, and my master plan. I cannot run from this thing forever, it will eventually catch up to me; I need to trap it. I tell them what I need them to do. I need them to find a location in the middle of nowhere, a place that is far away from people and is unlikely to be developed on in the next 100+ years. Luckily this is Canada, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find land like this. Once the place is found, they will need to get to work at digging a giant hole. Six feet wide and long, and at least 12 feet deep, but the deeper the better! Once the hole is done, they will need to fortify the floor and walls with at least one foot of concrete. This is why the bigger the hole the better, so we have more room to fortify the walls and floor. The tradeoff is that the larger the hole, the longer it will take.
STEP THREE: RUN!
Now my invaluable friends know what to do, and my eventual survival is in their hands. The longer I can run and survive on my own, the more time they will have to dig and fortify the hole. So I get all the cash I can and drive to the west coast. Figure it will take the entity at least a week to reach me. Of course, I get little to no sleep or rest, I’m constantly on the lookout for anyone suspicious. Anyone walking towards me on the street, or even looking at me becomes a demon in my mind. It’s exhausting and taxing. It feels like Death incarnate is coming for me. I don’t know when, but I know that it WILL find me.
Even though I thought it would take a week for the entity to reach me, the fear wins after only four days and I decide that I need to get on the move again. Driving is no longer enough to make me feel safe, even in this vast country of mine. So I hop on a plane to England under the pretense of visiting family. Now, this has to buy me a week right? Right??? Waiting on the tarmac for the plane to take off is hell. Every passenger shambling towards me, every stewardess is a demon in disguise, and I’m stuck on a plane with no escape route.
STEP FOUR: BAIT
It has been almost a month now and I’m wearing thin. I’m down to only 140 pounds and I feel lost in my own mind. Soon, for better or worse, this will be all over, but it brings me no joy. A part of me knows that it won’t work, and I don’t even care. That’s what a month on the run from an invisible shape-shifting demon will do to you. I’m tired. I’m defeated.
I’m back in Canada now, at a plot of land with an impressively huge hole in the middle of it and two concrete trucks spinning on standby. My friends ask me how long I think it will take for the entity to show. The truth is that I have absolutely no idea anymore. The entire time I was gone, I think I only saw it once two weeks ago, and even then I was not entirely sure if it was It or just an old lady. It could be weeks, I tell them.
Less than eight hours later I see it. A shiver runs down my spine, but not because I see the entity, but because of the realization of how close it was all this time. How many times in the past month was it much closer than I anticipated? How many close calls and near misses have I had and avoided through sheer luck? I call out that it’s here and in a stroke of brilliance, my friends turn on the sprinklers they installed, showering the plot with water and revealing the entity to all.
I stand on the far side of the hole, putting it between me and the demon. They could not place the sprinklers too close to the hole or it would mess up the newly poured concrete, so when the entity leaves the sprinkler’s perimeter, I hit it with paintballs again. The demon circles around the hole, walking the perimeter towards me. It’s now or never. My friends come charging in with makeshift poles with perpendicular 2x4s attached to the end. They knock the demon into the hole and immediately signal for the trucks to start pouring.
Although not solid or hard yet, wet concrete still weighs a lot. The massive volume of the concrete raining on top of the entity is enough to keep it trapped at the bottom of the hole, weighing it down. When the entire hole is filled to the brim with freshly poured concrete, we all raise our hands and cheer as one. But we do not know if this was enough, so after our initial jubilation, we sit atop a makeshift lookout and watch the fruits of our labour in silent anticipation.
An hour goes by, and nothing has been disturbed. Three hours go by, and still nothing. Is it truly trapped? Did we kill it? So far it’s only the weight of the concrete keeping it contained, the concrete won’t even begin to solidify for another twenty hours. For the first time in a month, I truly sleep. I’m surrounded by friends who fought with me and who will be able to warn me if the entity escapes its concrete cage. Thirty hours later, I allow myself to hope. The concrete remains undisturbed.
STEP FIVE: LIVE MY LIFE
It has been seven years since we trapped the entity. The fear has never left and I am still very much paranoid that it will one day escape. At first, I would take a trip every week to the location and check the concrete cage for anything out of place. Now, I’ve only been twice in the last three years, on the anniversary of that day. Today is one of those trips. I circle the pit checking for any signs of weakening or signs of escape, finding nothing. I turn back to walk to my car.
I cannot say what compels me, but I turn back to the pit and place my ear to the concrete, listening intently. At first, nothing but silence, but then I hear a distinct scratching sound coming from deep within the cage.
So, what would you do to survive It Follows? I’m up for any suggestions on how to prolong my life!
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Okay so I’d suggest a final series of steps that work only if money is of no concern: 1. As soon as humanly possible buy the land whereon your trap is built. 2. Hire an excavation and logistics company to dig out that concrete mass 3. Now you have some options either a: ship the block by boat to and drop it in an undersea trench sealed in plastic or carbon fiber b: still seal the thing up and place it on an international shipping program wherein the damn thing is moved around the world by boat for your entire lifetime.
Eventually all the people who slept with the monster would be dead, there is no inclination that it would pass by an unknown series of genetic lineages. More experiments would be required.