Left Over

Every once and awhile, you encounter a piece of culture which comes to feel to you like a beloved person.  These works are precious to us: they help us understand ourselves and the world.  They move us the way only people move us, normally – we care about them and they become part of the architecture of our lives.

For me, these adored and integral works are almost always books.  I love some music, am transfixed by a few pieces of visual art, and enjoy movies, but my whole self is built of books, and no other medium has ever moved me the way the written word has.

I especially disdain T.V. and film.  I consider these, categorically, lesser arts than the written word.  Yes, I recognize that this is ignorance and rank prejudice masquerading as a critical opinion, but I don’t really care.  I believe that written language is humankind’s paramount achievement; movies I consider mere entertainment.

Which is why it is emotionally confusing for me on the extremely rare occasions when I love a film or T.V. show with the same strength and admiration I feel for books.

And when I lose one of these movies or shows, I am as bereaved as I am when I finish a great book: lost and bewildered, thrown back into my real life but now without the benefit of a companion I had cherished.

The leftoversThis past week, I lost the best television show that I have perhaps ever seen, certainly the one which has moved me the most, with the airing on HBO, after three short seasons, of the finale of ‘The Leftovers’.

Critical opinion is, I gather, sort of split about ‘The Leftovers’: half of people feel as rapturous as I do, and half seem to have been left completely cold.  Or, as an acquaintance of mine put it, “I can tell that it’s very good, but I can’t watch more than about 30 minutes at a time – it’s too weird and too stressful.”

‘The Leftovers’ is about a world exactly like ours where, one day, 2% of the population, a seemingly random 2%, suddenly vanish out of thin air, never to return.  It’s about the people left, how they cope, how they understand, how they fall apart.

leftovers 3It’s difficult to find the language to describe how I feel about this show.  Or, rather, it isn’t difficult , but I am reluctant to use it, because it is so global and so far-ranging, and I’m worried that it will make me seem soft-headed.  But there is no point in writing about something you love if you aren’t going to tell the truth, so I suppose I might as well.

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This is exactly what the show feels like.

‘The Leftovers’ is the best depiction I have ever seen of grief on a screen.  It is the best depiction I have ever seen of people grappling frantically with the need to create meaning in their lives.  It is the best depiction I have ever seen of the quiet, desperate madness which descends on you when you learn that something which you believed impossible is actually quite possible.  It is the best depiction I have ever seen of the fact that we both need each other but cannot change to keep each other.  It is the best depiction I have ever seen of faith as a crutch, of faith as a lifesaver, and of the fact that faith can be both to the same person.

It’s hard not to admire a show that has the discipline to stop when it’s done, even if it’s only three seasons long, but I will confess: I’m crushed that ‘The Leftovers’ is over.  When you encounter that clear and confident a vision, you’re not quite content with seeing only what they want to show you.  You want to see more and more of the world through their eyes.  You feel like they have more to tell you.

leftovers 2I guess that’s what I’m trying to say: I’m not done with the world ‘The Leftovers’ showed me.  I watched the finale – I recognize that it is a complete vision, but I’m not finished.  They might be done, but I’m not done with them.  I have more to learn, about grief and rage and love.  I think that they had more to show me, but I’m grateful for what I saw.

Wonder Woman

This post contains spoilers.  Big, serious spoilers.

There is a strange alchemy whereby, if you pile up enough cliches, one on top of another, at some point they begin to become convincing, even moving.  Once banal, they take on the air of inevitable truths once they reach critical mass.

At least, I think that’s what happens.  It’s the only way that I can explain how it would be that I enjoyed ‘Wonder Woman’ so much.

dc-comics-wonder-woman-statue-tweeterhead-902973-02I did not expect that I would see ‘Wonder Woman’, much less like it – it didn’t appeal to me at all.  Firstly, Wonder Woman herself has always struck me as lame, in the same way that Superman is lame: too strong, too good, too generic.  Secondly, the obviousness of the feminism irritates me.  It felt patronizing, as though the creators of the comic books realized that they needed a female hero and then put no effort into it: ‘She’s, uh, gonna be great.  She’s strong, very strong, and hot, obviously.  She’s wonderful: Wonderful Woman.  No, Wonder Woman!  Her power is…that she’s wonderful!’ It’s as though they didn’t think that women would notice that she was a completely unfleshed-out character.

But I ended up going with a friend to see ‘Wonder Woman’ last night, and, despite the fact that all my objections are completely accurate, I loved it.

For those who are unfamiliar, ‘Wonder Woman’ is Diana.  She is an Amazon; in fact, she is the daughter of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons.  She was born on the island of Themyscira, which has been enchanted by Zeus until such a time when the Amazons will emerge to destroy Ares, the God of War.

Themyscira is where we meet Diana, when she is a young girl being raised by a group of warrior women with messy braids, all gorgeous and aging extremely gracefully.  Diana longs to be a warrior like her mother; she is determined to personally wage war against Ares, and in particular to wield the sword which her mother calls the God-Killer, the only weapon which can slay him.  Her mother is reluctant to train her, and her mother and aunt are prone to ominous whispering about how Diana is different from the other Amazons, and any competent moviegoer will realize immediately that it is Diana herself who is the God-Killer and that she is destined to go mano a mano with Ares.

One day, a plane carrying Chris Pine will puncture the protective bubble around Themyscira.  Diana will save his life, and learn about World War I, the foretold war to end all wars, and she will determine to leave the island, find Ares, and save mankind.

wonder-woman-gal-gadot-ultimate-edition-1024x681And now the cliches will come fast and furious: Diana will be shocked by the wickedness of men, the wantonness with which they destroy each other.  She will literally fall in love with the first man she sees, and then despair even of his goodness.  She will meet Ares, but he will not be the man she expected (but, if you’ve ever seen a movie before, he will be exactly who you expect).  She will nearly give in to rage and join Ares in his decision to rid the world of men.  She will realize, at the last moment, that there is still good in man, and she will vow to protect mankind.  Her love will be sacrificed in service of this realization.

It is almost perfectly formulaic – there are even the requisite comic sidekicks!  Then why was it so enjoyable?  I’m not sure I know the answer, but I have a few ideas:

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What a totally normal-looking couple.
  • The banter is remarkably good.  The conversations in particular between Diana and her male co-star are excellent.  They are funny and awkward and convincing and charming they carry a lot of the movie.
  • The fight scenes are cheesily magnificent.  There are lots of shots of muscular women in gladiatorial outfits making improbable moves with archaic weapons, and it’s really fun to watch.
  • Formula is relaxing.  When you know exactly what’s going to happen, you can be present in the action in a movie in a way which facilitates a certain kind of appreciation.  You can let the movie carry you, and the pounding theme music and beautiful people and gorgeous scenery can all have the narcotizing effect they were meant to have.  Your critical thought dissolves into a pleasurable, well-produced cinematic experience.

‘Wonder Woman’ allowed me to achieve this state – I had a blast.  It’s not that it was a good or bad movie – that really isn’t the relevant question.  It was entertaining.

They Mostly Come At Night, Mostly

This post contains spoilers for ‘Prometheus‘ and ‘Alien: Covenant’.

Many marvelous and beautiful things are mysterious.  We do not need to know something’s source to know its value.   This is particularly true of stories; we love stories in which forces unexplained and irresistible wreak havoc in human affairs: magic, witches, vampires, demons, zombies, these creatures appear again and again in the tales we tell each other.

And, in our most beloved stories, we don’t provide the origin of these supernatural things.  We allow them simply to be, and we spend the energy of our story trying to cope with them.

But, sometimes, the tellers of stories are seized by the urge to demystify their monsters, to write their backstories.  This is usually a mistake (anyone else remember the midichlorians?).  And they are doing this now to that most magnificent of all monsters, the Alien.

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Necronom IV

The Alien, which first appeared in ‘Alien’ in 1979, was based on a 1976 print by the artist H.R. Giger, ‘Necronom IV’.  It is a predatory, eusocial creature with a parasitic stage in a complex life cycle, and, for my money, it is the finest contribution that film has made to science fiction.  It is terrifying, the perfect combination of familiar and bizarre, a scrabbling, insectoid nightmare which communicates menace with every move.

The Alien, according to the original conception, was an alien, which added to its horrifying effect.  Somewhere out in the endless black expanse of space, life had burst forth.  But the same process which made us, the same process o280px-Alien_movie.jpgf selection and evolution, had, in some twisted alien world, produced this thing, this ravening killing machine.  Imagining the world which would have produced the Alien was almost as frightening as the Alien itself.

But, lately, alas, Ridley Scott has turned his attention (and enormous funding) to the creation of an Alien prequel trilogy.  The first of these movies, ‘Prometheus’, was released in 2012 and the second, ‘Alien: Covenant’, released last week*.  These movies reveal (in a not super-coherent way) that the Alien was, in fact, the result of an infection of humans by a malignant extraterrestrial virus orchestrated by a pathologically grandiose droid.  Got that?

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A facehugger

Obviously, this is a stupid plot, but what really bothers me is that it is completely unnecessary.  No one was clamoring to see the specific evolution of the Alien, and, if we wanted to know more about it, it was because we were interested in the ways in which it was unlike us.  We did not want to know that the alien was a human xenomorph all along – that completely ruins the point of it being an alien!

Why must we always do this?  Why are we possessed of this mania for origin stories? I understand why we have it for characters, why we are driven to go back and witness the births of Darth Vader and James Bond and Wolverine.  We know that people have psychologies, that they are informed by their past, that they are products of their upbringing, of their loves and their traumas, and that we can’t understand them without knowing whence they came.

7786379422_la-premiere-affiche-d-alien-covenantBut the Alien isn’t a character; it doesn’t have a psychology (I don’t care what ‘Alien Resurrection’ implies).  The Alien is a force, and forces must be grappled with in the present, whenever and however they find you.

Learning that the Alien comes, in part, from us adds nothing to its narrative power.  It only diminishes the effect your encounter with it will have on you: things which are like us or of us are almost always less frightening than things which are completely, ahem, alien, and things seen clearly are less scary than shapes which move in the darkness.  The Alien was at its best when it came, screaming at us, out of the black, unexpected and incomprehensible.  We were all better off before it was dragged into the light.

*Baffling side note: According to Rottentomatoes, ‘Prometheus’ actually got slightly better reviews (and was better liked by audiences) than ‘Alien: Covenant’, which is confounding, since ‘Prometheus’ a) was terrible and b) has none of the franchise’s most valuable asset, namely, the Alien.

How to Monitor Your Psychic Meltdown By the Culture You Consume:

A Love Note to Melvyn Bragg

imgres-3The past year and a half have been stressful.  Like many Americans, of many political persuasions, the nomination and election of Donald Trump to the Presidency showed me that I had badly misunderstood my country.  I
learned that I was wrong about the way the world worked, and I don’t think I’m alone in finding that realization desolating.

I used to be an active and engaged consumer of news, but I find now that my appetite for it is diminishing.  I am able to spend less time reading the daily news without becoming sad and apathetic, and so I have limited my intake.  The void left by news-reading has been filled with a series of other activities, psychic life-rafts I’ve reached for and discarded when they proved unable to adequately absorb my agitation.

When Trump received the Republican nomination, I went on a science fiction binge.  I read Kim Stanley Robinson’s ‘Mars Trilogy‘; Neal Stephenson’s ‘Snow Crash and ‘Seveneves‘; Cixin Liu’s ‘The Three-Body Trilogy.  Science fiction has the quality of being both escapist and morally relevant, and, for a while, I found it helped to inhabit the problems of worlds other than my own.

The day after Donald Trump was elected, when I walked into my lab, my labmates and I, all women, locked eyes and started to weep, and I found that my passion for dystopia had vanished.

Houghton_EC65.M6427P.1667aa_-_Paradise_Lost,_1667Escapism no longer seemed a viable option; reality felt urgent but overwhelming, and I needed something which would help me cope with the repulsion I felt towards the world around me.  I’m no optimist, and I especially wasn’t one this past winter, but I wVergilanted something hopeful.  So I started re-reading the old epics: ‘The Aeneid’, ‘The Inferno’, ‘Paradise Lost’.  There was something reassuring about the scope of these poems, their grandeur and their vintage.  They reminded me that civilizations may rise and fall, but that great monuments endure.  They broadened my perspective, and reduced the troubles of my country to the status of a mere chapter in humanity’s story.


images-1Eventually, though, the cycles of suffering and war which characterize epics started to make everything seem futile: so many men fight, so many die.  Wash, rinse, repeat.  I started to feel again that we are all doomed to the endless repetitions of violence which have characterized every human epoch.  Apathy came creeping back.

And then, in the past two weeks, when the House voted to replace a 58%-popular ACA with a 17%-popular AHCA, and the President fired the FBI director for investigating his ties to Russia, and then dashed off to a private photo shoot with a Russian spy, and North Korea threw a missile as high as it could into the air, and the whole world seemed too venal and stupid to be borne, and I was nearly lost in an apathetic stupor, I found my way back to Melvyn Bragg.

Once a week, Melvyn Bragg hosts a discussion on BBC Radio 4 called ‘In Our Time’, in which he and three relevantly-credentialed academics spend 45 minutes talking about…something.  These somethings are broadly classified into the categories ‘Science’, ‘History’, ‘Philosophy’, ‘Culture’, and ‘Religion’.  Since it first aired in 1998, it has covered topics as far-ranging as Japan’s Sakoku Period, Lyrical Ballads, Conductors and Semiconductors, The Baroque, Guilt, Antimatter, and Fermat’s Lost Theorem.

Melvyn telegraph
Melvyn Bragg on the occasion of the 500th episode of ‘In Our Time’, from the Telegraph,

Melvyn Bragg is a mellow, dry host, and he leads his academics in measured dissections of subjects both universal and abstruse.  He is at turns funny and serious, and the allegiance of everyone is, at all times, to the subject at hand.  These people are here to nerd out.

Though I am not normally susceptible to the allure of the English accent (Hugh Grant’s popularity baffles me), there is something about a round-table of dry, British academics earnestly discussing, say, whether Cleopatra was carried into Caesar’s tent in a carpet, or a bag, or a carpeted-bag, which makes the world seem sensible and good.  And I have not yet found anything else as effectively (and endlessly) distracting as this two-decades-old labyrinth of esoterica.  Melvyn has provided me not so much with an escape, but with a reminder that the world contains multitudes, vast stores of history and knowledge which I can never exhaust and which will never stop delighting me.  I need this right now; I need the world to be larger than my own dysfunctional corner of it.  His show is very popular in Britain, and so I doubt that it will give Baron Bragg an enormous thrill to know that he has rescued the sanity of one desperate American, but it is true nonetheless.

So I have this recommendation for Americans who are, like me, lost: download ‘In Our Time’.  Find a comfortable place to sit or recline (I have taken to lying, flat on my back, on the rug in my living room, in my sweatpants – as I said, it’s been a stressful time), put in your headphones, and let Melvin help.

Melvyn Bragg on the occasion of the 500th episode of ‘In Our Time’, from the Telegraph,

Monkey See, Monkey Do

It always surprises me that people look to monkeys for hope.

I suppose it is because they looks so much like us, because they are, in fact, like us, that they serve something of the same function in the debate of essential morality that children do: they seem like us in a pristine state.  We look to them to see what we might have been like, before adulthood or primate evolution fucked us up.

So people look to monkeys and apes to get a glimpse into our own essential nature: if they are amoral animals merely, then perhaps we are no better than they, only cleverer.

But if they are good, if they have kind natures, if they treat each other according to some kind of primitive moral code, then that would be good news indeed for us: it would suggest that ethics is in our nature.

That is the thesis of the book ‘Good Natured: The Origins of Right and Wrong in Humans and Other Animals’, by Frans de Waal.  De Waal is a zoologist and primate ethologist, and a very persuasive writer about primates (he is the author of the great, great ‘Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among Apes’), and in ‘Good Natured’, he says, “I have set myself the task of seeing if some of the building blocks of morality are recognizable in other animals” (p.3).

He does this, he says, because, “Given the universality of moral systems, the tendency to develop and enforce them must be an integral part of human nature…instead of human nature’s being either fundamentally brutish or fundamentally noble, it is both” (p.2-5).

Double Holding
Double-Holding (in rhesus macaque)

Which is to say, of course, that it is neither.  Frans de Waal did not convince me that apes are fundamentally, rudimentarily moral, but he did convince me that we are fundamentally social.  And that is morally worrisome.

For example, did you know that rhesus macaques hold their infants tightly in their arms with other infants, to encourage the two infants to bond?  It’s called ‘double-holding’.  But, and here’s the really interesting bit, according to de Waal, “double-holding is highly selective: nine out of ten mothers hold their infant with the offspring of females who outrank them…perhaps mothers are suggesting upper-class rather than lower-class friends to their offspring” (p.101).

Punishment
Punishing an low-ranking playmate (in rhesus macaque)

 

Conversely, when their offspring play with a lower-ranking youngster, the mother may separate and punish the lower-ranked young monkey.

Or, “macaques are specialists in indirect revenge [emphasis in the original]…victims of attack often vent their feelings on a relative of the opponent.  Their targets are typically younger than the initial aggressor, hence easier to intimidate, and the vindictive action may occur after considerable delay” (p.159).

De Waal sees in these behaviors evidence of the kind of sophisticated social behavior which might underlie rudimentary ethics and I think that makes him hopeful.  I see in these behaviors evidence that primates (including humans) are fundamentally social, and that does not make me hopeful.

Social behaviors, social instincts, of the kind de Waal describes aren’t moral – they are tribal.  These behaviors suggest that primates have deep-wired capacities to tell in-group versus out-group, to assign other primates spots in a social hierarchy, and to place individuals within functional units for purposes of social advancement or retaliation.

Conflict
Three lower-ranking females gang up on a higher-ranking female (in rhesus macaques)

De Waal may see the germ of morality here, but I see the germ of most human evil.  Our remarkable and innate ability to sort each other, our intense desire to affiliate and to exclude, our propensity to generalize the virtues and sins of individuals onto their kin, or to groups that share their characteristics: these are the behaviors which underlie genocides and race wars, religious crusades and colonializations.  And I see the beginnings of them in those macaques.

It is very hard to shake an instinct: you may learn all the moral rules you like, but in the dark moments, when you are angry or afraid, you tend to default to your instincts.

And our instincts, revealed in those monkeys, are to arrange ourselves into heritable hierarchies, which are also called ‘classes’.  Our instincts are to claw towards the status of those above us and not to pity those below us.  Our instincts are to remember the insults we’re dealt and not the ones we’ve given, to retaliate, to revenge ourselves on the kin of our aggressors.

And so monkeys don’t make me hopeful at all.

All images are taken from ‘Good Natured‘, and were taken by Frans de Waal at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center at Emory University, where he is the Charles Howard Candler professor of Primate Behavior.

Note for the sake of pedantry only:  Monkeys and apes are not synonymous terms: they are different sub-orders of primates. Rhesus macaques, pictured above in the body of the post, are monkeys.  The header image is of a bonobo, which, like humans, are apes.

Quislings to All Humanity

Review of ‘The Three-Body Problem‘, by Liu Cixin

Warning: this post contains details of premise which are not revealed until midway through the first novel.

     I suppose there comes a time for every dedicated science fiction reader when they must ask themselves, ‘would I collude with an alien species to destroy the human race?’

The Three-Body Problem Cover     I have just finished the first two books of Liu Cixin’s ‘Remembrance of Earth’s Past’ trilogy, best known to English readers by the title of its first book, ‘The Three-Body Problem’.  ‘The Three-Body Problem’ was nominated for a Nebula for Best Novel and won the 2015 Hugo Award for Best Novel (the first non-English language novel ever to win, I believe, and the award was shared with his translator Ken Liu), and has met enormous acclaim since its publication in English.

     The premise of the trilogy is thought-provoking: during the Cultural Revolution in China, a persecuted physicist discovers, via the Chinese equivalent of the SETI program, evidence of an extraterrestrial civilization.  These aliens live on a planet which is located within the gravitational field of three suns, and since three objects do not form a repeating orbit (the ‘three body problem’ of the title), they are subject to lethal climatic extremes.  The aliens are thus in need of a new planet and the human scientist, who had become convinced that humankind is unable to govern themselves justly, reveals the location and suitability of Earth to them.  The first two novels of the trilogy tell the story of this scientist and the organization she builds to destroy humankind, and, once she is discovered, of humanity’s preparations of for the coming of the alien fleet.

     The best purpose of science fiction is to pose moral problems in a context which, through novelty, clarifies them, and, by that metric, ‘The Three-Body Problem’ is a success.  The problem it poses is a particularly acute one for me.  The scientist at the heart of the premise believes that humans are innately and ineradicably evil – I believe that humans are innately and ineradicably evil.  She believes that, if left to govern themselves, they will always and inevitably turn to murder and wickedness – I believe that as well.  And so when she sees a technologically superior race, she decides to hand over mastery of our lives and world to that race – would I do the same?

     No, of course not.  There are several glaring errors of thought required to reach her conclusion, several unjustified leaps of logic.

aliens-peace

     First, technological superiority does not imply moral superiority.  Simply because aliens are more advanced scientifically does not mean that they are more “advanced” ethically.  You encounter this thinking often in science fiction; the notion is that civilizations which divert resources into constant, intra-species strife lack the resources for the development of interstellar travel.  The conclusion is that, therefore, any extraterrestrials likely to reach us are probably going to be some hippy-dippy, beatific, highly pacifistic race which has “evolved” past war.  

     This is completely bogus.  If human history is any example, war is a great engine of technological progress, not an impediment to it.

     More than that, the fact of the approaching alien fleet almost certainly tells the morality of the approaching alien fleet: any race willing to conquer an alien planet and either enslave or exterminate another intelligent species is not pacifistic.  They are not morally superior to us; they are not better or kinder.  They are, to put it simply, as evil as we are.

     The last problem is this: that you are capable of evil does not mean that you necessarily deserve death.  It does not mean that you are capable only of evil and not capable of good, that evil and evil alone defines you, or that individuals among your population are incapable of living entirely good lives.  A species like ours which carries its capacity for evil within it, innate and unchanging, may also carry a like capacity for good, just as innate and just as ineradicable.  And each generation of that species should be given the chance to choose their own goodness over their own evil.

     So, after much thought, I have decided that, when the time comes, I will not help extraterrestrials exterminate humankind.  It was a tough call, but I’m going to throw my lot in with us.  I still think we’re our own best bet.

The three novels of the ‘Remembrance of Earth’s Past‘ trilogy are: ‘The Three-Body Problem‘, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End.

Featured Image:

From the 1996 movie ‘Independence Day

It Definitely Follows

Review of ‘It Follows

I finally, after many weeks of reading reviews and absorbing buzz, went to see ‘It Follows’.

Horror fans, of which I am one, tend to maintain a carefully calibrated set of expectations.  Horror movies can be characterized according to several sub-genres, all of which observe certain tropes and obey certain rules.  Movies rarely transcend their sub-genre, and part of enjoying horror movies is appreciating the limitations and traditions of these categories.

But it’s nice to see something a little different once and a while.  ‘It Follows’ is unusual in a couple of ways: the premise is unfamiliar and completely unexplained: the creepiness is simply allowed to exist – it is never demystified or justified.  There is no reveal: it’s an alien!  It’s a demon!  It’s a girl who was drowned!  It’s a cyborg!  It simply is, and must be contended with.

But perhaps the most novel thing about ‘It Follows’, the genre convention which is most surprising in its abandonment, is this: the teenage characters in it do relatively few stupid things.

Stupid actions done by teenagers are the sine qua non of horror plots.  Split up the group, go explore the weird noise alone, break into the boarded-up asylum, don’t check under the bed, in the closet, or behind the door: without this basic toolkit, pretty much no horror movie could advance its plot.

And that’s fine, but it gets a little old: you watch a blonde in a crop top walk into another obvious trap, and you think, “Haven’t these people ever seen a horror movie?  Can’t she hear the ominous music?”

But what’s cool about ‘It Follows’ is that, with one or two exceptions, most of the kids in the movie act exactly the way you would act if you or someone you knew had contracted a sexually-transmitted zombie.

The central problem, besides the zombie, obviously, is this: how, exactly, could you come to be sure that something was following you?  If it could take any form, and could only walk after you, that thing would kill you long before you even knew you were being chased.  And how would you ever convince anyone else, your friends and family, who couldn’t even see it?

It Follows’ deals with this efficiently and well, getting the first part, convincing the main character, Jay (played by Maika Monroe), of her danger, out of the way with plenty of time leftover to watch that creepy thing walk after her.

And it’s really creepy.  Because the creature walks everywhere, you must adjust your horror-movie expectations again: you are no longer looking into shadows waiting for something to spring out at you – rather, you spend the movie scanning crowds, like a secret service agent, looking for someone, anyone at all, walking in a straight line.  The thing follows Jay to public places, schools, beaches, and it comes day and night.  And because she’s not safe anywhere, you’re not safe anywhere.  You can’t relax and wait for the normal cues to alert you that trouble is coming – trouble is always coming, slowly, but inexorably, in any guise it chooses.

All of which makes ‘It Follows’ the best horror movie I’ve seen in a while, certainly the scariest.  I saw it days ago, and I won’t lie: I’m glad Spouse wasn’t away at all this week.  I’m not a kid anymore  – it’s an unusual horror movie that leaves me uneasy in my mind.  This was one.