In a horror film, someone uses a seashell to read – but what is it really?

Would you like a mussel?  (Image: The Weinstein CompanyNickelodeon)
Would you like a mussel?  (Image: The Weinstein CompanyNickelodeon)

Would you like a mussel? (Image: The Weinstein Company/Nickelodeon)

Sometimes the brain hits the most unlikely hooks: For a few days there have been rumors that Apple itself has a foldable cell phone in the oven (The Information, among others, reported this). And my first thought wasn't towards the other flip phones or the Nintendo DS, but towards a film in which a character reads on a flip-open shell.

And then I asked myself: What was that girl actually used in “It Follows”? I got to the bottom of that.

Max Schwind

For Maxe, horror films are a double-edged sword. You can't lure him out from behind the stove with conventional jump scares; he prefers real, unpleasant horror. That's why “It Follows” and his strange shell stuck in his memory, because both are very unusual – even though he is not a passionate shell collector.

The girl who read from the shell

The plot of “It Follows” is quickly told: Through a curse that is passed on through sexual intercourse, protagonist Jaime is pursued by an unknown entity – and it only stops when it has killed its victim, before moving on to its predecessor.

This article is not about the creature, but about this gadget:

Who doesn't know it: crunching a sandwich while reading on the mussel.  (Image: The Weinstein Company)
Who doesn't know it: crunching a sandwich while reading on the mussel.  (Image: The Weinstein Company)






Who doesn't know it: crunching a sandwich while reading on the mussel. (Image: The Weinstein Company)

Yara, one of the characters, always has a shell in her hand on which she seems to be reading something. It is about 10 x 10 centimeters in size and actually seems quite impractical.

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During the course of the film, no one else except Yara is seen using any similar device. So: what kind of strange shell is this?

The shell is an e-reader… right?

If we look at the shell from the front, it becomes clear what it is:

Yara's shell has two screens and touch controls.  (Image: The Weinstein Company)
Yara's shell has two screens and touch controls.  (Image: The Weinstein Company)






Yara's shell has two screens and touch controls. (Image: The Weinstein Company)

The shell is an e-reader. Or at least looks like one. The signal bars at the top of the corner suggest that you can also use it to make phone calls. But where are the speakers then?

In this Twitter post you can see the shell again in all its glory.

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This is how the director explains it

Director David Robert Mitchell confirms that the supposed mollusc is a cell phone. His explanation:

The e-reader cell phone – or 'shell phone' – is not a real device. It's a case from the 60s that we turned into an e-reader phone. I wanted modern things, but if you show a certain smartphone, it will eventually become outdated. It would be too real for the film.

David Robert Mitchel, interview with AV Club

In short: Director Mitchell wanted to use modern gadgets in his film, but give them a timeless look and chose the shell from over 60 years ago.

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And there is a reason for that: “It Follows” is a nightmare

The name of “It Follows” says it all: it’s about being followed.  (Image: The Weinstein Company)
The name of “It Follows” says it all: it’s about being followed.  (Image: The Weinstein Company)






The name of “It Follows” says it all: it’s about being followed. (Image: The Weinstein Company)

The idea behind the entity comes from the director's nightmare. He gave the background to the myth about sexual intercourse. In addition, the film itself takes place in a nightmare, which is repeatedly emphasized aesthetically and musically – and then the Shell Phone fits wonderfully into the wonderfully bizarre world of the film.

By the way, the Shell Phone was already available in 1987. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles used a similar-looking device to communicate with their friend April O'Neill.

TMNT Turtle Comm






The Turtle Comm looks very similar to the flip phones of the mid-2000s. (Image: CBS)

Turtle Comm concept art






The device is even explained in a concept drawing. (Image: CBS)

Did director Mitchell cheat?

In any case, I think that the shell phone fits perfectly into the film. “It Follows” thrives on the fact that everything is a little strange and scary. A girl reading on a shell is probably the most normal thing when you're being chased by something you don't know what it is or what it looks like.

I also have a scary tip from Germany for you. You can watch the first three seasons of “The Ghost Files” for free on Prime Video, a low-budget series in which people go to lost places to track down ghosts.

Did you know that we're not that far away from manned mechas?

Films and series always surprise us with interesting gadgets or use unconventional methods to amaze us – and sometimes all you need is a seashell. Have you seen “It Follows”? Did you like the film? Have you also wondered about the cell phone shell? Feel free to write it in the comments.

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