Maika Monroe on Awkward Sex Scenes & The Mechanics of Making A Horror Film Like 'It Follows'
"I grew up loving scaring the shit out of myself," says 21-year-old actor Maika Monroe. "My friends and I would have sleepovers and rent five shitty horror movies, wanting to be terrified, and stay up all night and not be able to sleep." But the actor's love of horror never graduated as she grew into adulthood. Instead of retiring the fear-inducing pictures, she started making them.
"There's something so fun about being absolutely terrified," she says. "Shooting It Follows was definitely fun. Actually, I don't know if 'fun' is the right word, but it was really intense and creepy. We were shooting in Detroit, which has abandoned buildings and buildings that nature has taken over. There's definitely some creepy places there so it helped add to the atmosphere."
It Follows is the bizarre story of a young woman, Jay, who after having sex, is followed by an ominous figure. Faced with the burden of being constantly followed by something — someone — she must find a way to eradicate the creature before it's too late.
It sounds like a spoof on sexually transmitted diseases, and maybe it is, but Monroe won't reveal exactly how she sees it. "It's just a fucked up story," she jokes. "No, it's interesting because David the director will be asked, 'What's the meaning?' and to him, it's everyone taking their own interpretation away from it. I don't think there's any one certain metaphor or something you should get out of it, and that's something cool about the film."
And because the film is a commentary on sexual relationships, the sex we see on screen can't be avoided. "It's very awkward," Monroe says of shooting sex scenes. "There's tons of people around, people watching you, and the director will be like, 'OK, we need to do that again, but your face has to be more this way,' and it's just so unnatural. There's nothing romantic about it," she divulges. "It was nice though because we were such a close cast, these are all my best friends, so we were able to laugh it off because it's just so ridiculous."
While shooting some scenes were laughable, others were down right tedious. In one particularly memorable scene from the film, Monroe's Jay is attacked by the demon only she can see in a pool, being yanked and dragged in every direction under water. Like the infamous opening sequence of Jaws, the effect was achieved by having someone underneath the surface, yanking at her appendages. "I come from an athletic background, so I'm fine and I'm tough, but shooting that scene was hard. Super hard," she says. "For three days we were shooting in that pool. It wasn't a heated pool and your body temperature will slowly drop if you're in anything that's lower than what your body temperature is. When you're shooting 12-hour days it's not easy."
You can (and should) see It Follows when it hits theatres March 23. Watch the trailer below:
Image: Northern Lights Films