There's absolutely no doubt that social media, over the last decade or so, has made people do some pretty insane shit just to get views, likes, and followers. There is this really bizzare and unmentionable desire for a lot of people to be liked on the internet and to have an audience, so some people will just go to unbelievable lengths to get just the right photo or to create that video nobody else has the guts to create. When the new horror FOLLOWED finally released on video-on-demand this summer, I knew it was gonna be an interesting one because of its concept: an online video creator is desperate for new subscribers to earn a sponsorship for his channel, so he spends the nights leading up to Halloween in a terribly cursed and haunted hotel in downtown LA where a woman just recently went missing. What makes films like this so intriguing to me is the tie-in to present day technology and language, which we've seen a bit recently in films like Host, Countdown, and Apparition. So Followed was an obvious watch for me, because it not only included the technology tie-in but it's a found footage film which - if you've been following Soulless for a while - you might know I'm a sucker for. While Followed is hardly something groundbreaking in the genre, it actually makes for a pretty fuckin' sweet hour and a half watch. There's absolutely parts of this movie that are way more fun and exciting than others, and there's a few scenes where our main character - Mike, who goes by "DropTheMike" on his channel - is very obnoxious and even punchable, but overall, Followed makes for a great addition to your October stay-in movie night! There's a great little backstory to the film, some pretty sweet action shots and some silly - yet fun - haunts, and honestly, the good outweighs the bad for me with this one so I gotta say it's worth checking out if this sounds like a film that might interest you!
So our host Mike's (Matthew Solomon) online presence is dedicated to visiting locations across the city that are home to crime, suicide, and murder, where he essentially exploits the location for views, lame jokes and cheap laughs. As his channel begins to gain traction, he's offered a sponsorship from a company who will pay him $250,000 if he can hit a certain goal of subscribers by the end date. So to impress his followers and gain the ones he needs, he signs up his production team - Chris (Tim Drier), Dani (Sam Valentine) and Nic (Caitlin Grace) - to spend a few nights at the Lennox Hotel, the location where a serial killer stayed and slaughtered some victims (which I'm assuming it based on Richard Ramirez - the Night Stalker - and his stay at the Cecil Hotel in LA). In fact, besides his editor Nic, the team rented out the actual room where the killer personally stayed! What makes the scene even more wicked is that just recently, a woman disappeared from the location without a trace, and all authorities have of her is a video of her playing the "elevator game" in the hotel's elevator, before she disappeared forever. The game has its player enter the elevator on the first floor - by themself - and press a series of floor buttons in order, and as the door opens towards the end, shit begins to hit the fan. So obviously, DropTheMike has to play the silly game - strapped with a camera of course - and it is then that things really begin to ramp up for everyone. Will Mike and his team be able to survive the night at the cursed Lennox Hotel, or will they chicken out before they meet the subscribers they need? Find out in... FOLLOWED!
Followed is absolutely not going to be for everyone; let me be straight up about that. At times, the film is silly, outrageous, over-the-top and cheesy, and there's scenes where the acting feels so forced it can almost be described as cringey. But, if you go into this film knowing that Followed isn't the serious found footage horror you might expect it to be, you'll actually find yourself in for a pretty fun little ride. DropTheMike is totally obnoxious and annoying, and it's obvious he doesn't mind putting himself first before the safety (and sanity) of his friends, so there's a good chance you'll actually enjoy Mike's descent into madness as the horrors of the hotel come to life and begin to mess with his head. But the horrors his innocent friends endure during their stay at the Lennox is pretty wicked as well, and it's enough to drive them all out of their minds too. The film, as with pretty much all found footage horrors, kinda relies on some jump scares and some good editing to really the scares going. Admittedly, Followed will definitely not get your heart racing the way The Blair Witch Project did the first time you watched it, but I don't think that was writer Todd Klick and director Antoine Le's real mission with the film; I could be wrong but the film feels too silly and over-the-top for is purpose to be pure terror. Followed offers some entertaining scenes with some creativity (the elevator game is pretty awesome, I can't lie) but the movie is far from scary - not even to a child. One thing I do have to throw in that I really enjoyed was the films creative way it plays out: from the get-go, each night of the hotel stay is a video clip being played on a computer screen. You'll quickly forget this as the film goes on, only to be reminded as one night ends and the next begins, and the person in control of the computer navigates the screen and clicks on various items across the website and computer. It was a very creative and pretty awesome way to tie all of the clips together, I gotta admit.
Like I mentioned before, if you can look past the films flaws, its obnoxiousness and its sometimes bad acting - and you keep in mind that this film is pretty light and will not cause you to lose sleep - there's some fun to be had with Followed. I don't see this movie being worth more than one play through, it's more of a one-time viewing for a late-night quarantine viewing; and I also mentioned before that this film is definitely pretty niche and will likely earn some hate from people who go into it not knowing what to expect. But if this film sounds like its your style or you just enjoy checking out new indie horrors, Followed might be worth your few bucks rental this spooky season!