The Kult Take: It Follows

For this recurring segment of Beyond Elysium, I will step away from the nepharites and have a Kult-inspired look at other horror media. Welcome to The Kult Take.

The curse placed upon the characters in It Follows is a sexually transmitted mark of death. Early in the film, Jay has sex with her new boyfriend and finds herself stuck with the curse, the boyfriend abandoning her with only a warning to move fast and pass it on as quickly as possible. The curse manifests as a human, though its exact appearance can shift at any time. It is only visible to those who have been affected by the curse, others ignore its presence entirely. At a slow, steady pace, the manifestation walks towards the curse bearer with intent to kill. It can break through doors, cast others aside, and track its victim to the ends of the Earth. Once it kills its victim, the manifestation returns to whomever it last tormented. No matter what you do, it follows.

Mechanically and uncaring, the manifestation nears. Whether it is truly alive or a mindless husk enslaved to the will of some greater force, none can say. It follows those afflicted by what well researched sex magicians refer to as the curse of Eridu, though the full origins of the curse remain hidden in the distant past. A few scholars studying the gospel of Gamaliel believe that the curse can be placed upon humanity by the servants of this death angel, but their obsessive attempts to prove this have so far only resulted in bloody carnage. The manifestation cannot be seen and its presence scarcely felt by those who haven’t been afflicted by the curse in the past, but unless in the way of its goals the manifestation will ignore them. Notes left behind from convents and communes brought down by the curse detail ritual orgies and ruthless sexual conquests as desperate attempts to prepare and perhaps defend against the murderous manifestation. The complete destruction of all involved in these attempts is inevitable. It may take weeks, or months, perhaps even years, but the curse cannot be lifted and the manifestation cannot be destroyed.

The curse spreads through sex. Once afflicted, the cursed’s only way to stay alive is to pass it on to the next person they sleep with. Those who have been afflicted by the curse can see the manifestation, a person walking towards them at a slow and steady pace. It could look like anyone – a stranger, a child, a lunatic or a family member. Whether its appearance is shocking or mundane, it does not break from its pace and it does not stop. Windows break and doors fly off their hinges as the manifestation approaches its victim. Hapless bystanders are ruthlessly tossed aside and violence against this to-most invisible force results in nothing but a second’s delay. It rips its victim apart, bones shattering and flesh tearing and genitals posthumously pleasured. It is a simple act, and once the deed is done the manifestation leaves the scene and wanders towards the next person down the curse’s chain. To pass it on once is not enough – the curse remembers each victim. The doom will come to them eventually.

The Manifestation

Home: Elysium

Creature Type: Enforcer of the curse of Eridu

Abilities:

  • Curse of Eridu – The manifestation innately senses the exact location of the current bearer of the curse. When the cursed dies and the curse reverts back to its previous carrier, this ability applies to them.
  • Indestructible – All Harm dealt to the Manifestation is reduced to 0. This may still trigger a Harm move.
  • Shapeshifter – At will, the creature can take any appearance or form it wants.
  • Fanatical – Cannot be influenced or otherwise reasoned with.
  • Imperceptible – The manifestation cannot be sensed by anyone not afflicted by the curse of Eridu, unless they physically interact with it.

Attributes: Combat[5], Influence[0], Magic[1]

Combat Moves:

  • Reach any place, given enough time.
  • Ignore attacks entirely.
  • Destroy a human body.
  • Easily dispose of attackers and bystanders.
  • Break down furniture, doors, and walls. 

Magic Moves:

  • Read its victim’s thoughts and memories.

Harm Moves:

  • It ignores the damage and continues walking.
  • The manifestation is struck and staggers backwards.
  • A heavy blow incapacitates the manifestation for the time being.
  • An attacker is grabbed and thrown into a wall or to the ground. [Distance: Arm. 2 Harm, target is on the ground]
  • For a moment, a threatened character can escape the manifestation’s onslaught. [Act Under Pressure to get to safety]

Attacks:

The manifestation kills in gruesome ways. Once its victim is on the ground and their legs broken, it continues its rampage on their flesh as its sexual assault leads to, and continues after, death. It cannot be bargained with, only run from.

  • Show of strength. [Distance: Arm. 2 Harm, target is on the ground.]
  • Grab and hold. [Distance: Arm. 1 Harm, target is held in an unbreakable grip.]
  • Break limbs. [Distance: Arm, target must be held or on the ground. Serious Wound.]
  • Tear apart. [Distance: Arm, target must be held or on the ground. 3 Harm.]

It Follows is a nightmarish film. From its cinematography to how it’s written, the props and the atmosphere, it makes the entire story feel like a bad dream. Despite this, I opted not to connect the manifestation to Limbo. In Kult, reality is already a lie, so we do not have to rely on dream logic to justify terror. The horrors in It Follows stand on their own, I think. How would you represent this sexually transmitted curse?

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