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The Weird Movie Cole Sprouse Said Inspired Riverdale

Serial killers, cults, and time travel: "Riverdale" has become a genre in itself. Though based on the wholesome comics about Archie, Betty, and Veronica, the series has taken a significantly different trajectory, opting for a grittier take on the beloved characters. Love triangles still feature in The CW series, but "Riverdale" also makes cleverly placed homages from time to time. The first season's investigation of Jason Blossom's (Trevor Stines) murder is a clear reference to David Lynch's "Twin Peaks" while Jughead (Cole Sprouse) goes on to impersonate Rod Serling in Season 6.

The series has certainly traveled into absurdity in later seasons with its inclusion of supernatural crossover events, but it remains a love letter to many other iconic creative properties that came before. These tributes may seem clear to some viewers, but there is one pop culture reference that might not be so obvious. "Riverdale" has been known to pull plot points out of left field and, according to Sprouse, one film inspiration fits the bill.

It Follows also has an abstract time period

Just as important as homage, "Riverdale" would be nowhere without its atmosphere. Familiar locations such as Pops have a retro feel, but the teens also have avid exposure to technology such as cell phones. The decision to make the time period more abstract was extremely purposeful, as Cole Sprouse noted on a Reddit AMA.

"'Riverdale' has no formal or announced time period as of now. [A]nd with the amount of money we dedicate to atmospheric fog, the setting is supposed to feel dreamlike," Sprouse explained. "My understanding of the town is some twilight zone between the modern and the nostalgic 'golden age' america." One Redditor noted this aesthetic is also present in the highly acclaimed horror film "It Follows," to which Sprouse responded, "One of the movies used in our abstracts."

The 2014 film predates the death of Jason Blossom by a few years and is even more aggressive in its depiction of a fluid time period. With no cell phones or modern technology in sight, "It Follows" depicts its protagonist, Jay (Maika Monroe), being followed by an unsettling entity after having sex with her new boyfriend Hugh (Jake Weary). The only way to get rid of it is to have sex with someone else and pass on the disturbing ghoul. The lack of technology drives up the suspense, making it harder for characters to communicate with each other. However, there was another important reason why filmmaker David Robert Mitchell used an abstract time period for the film.

David Robert Mitchell didn't want the film to feel dated

Many visual cues let viewers know "It Follows" does not take place in a typical modern world. One of these is the seashell e-reader on which Yara (Olivia Luccardi) reads Dostoevsky's "The Idiot." In a conversation with The A.V. Club, director David Robert Mitchell stated that the e-reader was an invention for the film as they didn't want to put the story in a specific time and place. 

"It's a '60s shell compact that we turned into a cell phone e-reader. So I wanted modern things, but if you show a specific smartphone now, it dates it. It's too real for the movie," Mitchell stated. He went on to say: "And all of that is really just to create the effect of a dream — to place it outside of time, and to make people wonder about where they are." This dreamlike quality makes "It Follows" stand out from other films of its kind.

"Riverdale" takes this idea but makes it more recognizable. The teens' use of cell phones is prevalent in the series but, in some ways, makes for more interesting storytelling. For instance, in Season 2, Betty (Lili Reinhart) is emotionally in distress as serial killer The Black Hood constantly bombards her with secretive calls she can tell no one about. This creates a sense of even more dread as Betty is unable to escape her worst nightmare.